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Building permits way down in April

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The total value of building permits.

The total value of building permits issued by Canada municipalities plummeted 17.1 per cent to $6 billion in April. The decrease in April was the largest decline since a similar drop in October 2008 during the financial crisis. When combined with the March decline, the value of building permits has fallen by 28.1 per cent from February levels.

Eight provinces reported decline, with the largest in Quebec (down 34.1 per cent) and Ontario (down 20 per cent). Most municipalities were still issuing permits in April, Quebec’s decision to shut down non-essential construction activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to it posting its largest month-over-month percentage decline on record.

The total value of residential permits was down in nine provinces in April, falling 14.2 per cent to $3.9 billion nationally.

Permits issued for single-family dwellings feel 35.9 per cent to $1.4 billion, when using comparable data available back to 2002. A record month-over-month decline and almost double the next largest decrease.

Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec all recorded their largest month-over-month percentage declines.

Multi-family dwellings were the only component to show an increase at the national level in April, up 4.8 per cent to $2.6 billion. Increased building intentions in the census metropolitan areas of Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa led to gain in British Columbia and Ontario, which more than offset declines in six provinces.

The decreases in February and March were the result of a large number of permits being pilled forward into January as builders looked to avoid a scheduled fee hike in Metro Vancouver.

The value of commercial permits was down 21.5 per cent to $1.2 billion in April with the largest decline reported in Quebec (down 56.6 per cent), setting another record month-over-month percentage decrease for the province.

Industrial permits fell 34.7 per cent to $377 million following gains in March, with declines posted in six provinces.

Major school and nursing home projects helped drive gains for institutional permits in some parts of the country. However, growth reported in six provinces failed to outweigh sharp declines in Ontario and Quebec, which pulled the national total down 10.5 per cent to $533 million.

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