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building construction increased in December
February 9, 2021

Investment in Canadian building construction increased 1.5% in December

Statistics Canada reports that total investment in building construction increased 1.5% in December, following three consecutive months of declines. Investment in the residential sector reached a record high of $11.1 billion.

On a constant dollar basis (2012=100), investment in building construction increased 1.0% to $12.2 billion in December.

Non-residential investment remains flat

In December, non-residential construction investment remained at $4.4 billion for the third consecutive month. Ontario reported the largest gain—up 2.0% from November—but this growth was offset by declines reported in five provinces.

Investment in commercial building construction edged up 0.3% in December, driven in large part by Ontario’s growth in this sector (+3.6% to $1.1 billion). The construction of large projects, such as Amazon’s Project Python being built in Ottawa, contributed to the rise.

Institutional investment (+0.9%) also increased in December. British Columbia led the growth with the construction of a new RCMP building in Fort St. John.

Conversely, industrial investment edged down 0.2%, with no significant changes reported in any province.

Investment in residential construction reaches record levels

Investment in residential construction reached a record high in December, up 1.9% to $11.1 billion. Single-unit investment continued to show strength for the third straight month, up 2.6%. Eight provinces posted gains, with Ontario (+2.8%), Quebec (+3.1%) and Alberta (+4.6%) accounting for the majority of the growth. Newfoundland and Labrador posted a decline in this component for the second straight month resulting from high-value renovation projects coming to a close.

Nationally, multi-unit investment increased 1.2%. Notable growth was reported in Ontario and British Columbia, attributable primarily to condominium and apartment building construction.

Quarterly growth driven by residential sector

The total value of investment in building construction edged up 0.3% to $46.2 billion in the fourth quarter, driven by gains in the residential sector (+5.0%). Investment in residential buildings reported a record quarter, with both single-unit (+7.9%) and multi-unit (+2.2%) investment posting gains.

Commercial (-13.4%), industrial (-6.4%) and institutional (-3.2%) investments all declined in the fourth quarter, contributing to an overall drop of 9.8% in non-residential investment. The declines in the second and fourth quarters of 2020 reflected the impact of COVID-19 in the non-residential sector. Prior to 2020, the last decrease was posted in the third quarter of 2016.

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