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Building permits have decreased 11.7% in value month-over-month, to $10.5 billion in March, according to data released Monday by Statistics Canada.

Between March 2023 and 2024, building permits fell from $12.4 billion to $10.5 billion, a decrease of 15.2% year-over-year.

Building permits in the non-residential sector fell from $4.8 to $4 billion between February and March 2024, a decrease of 16.7%. Meanwhile, permits in the residential sector decreased by 8.3% to $6.5 billion. 

“Declines were observed in all components except for the commercial component,” reads the report.

Construction intentions in the non-residential sector were led by industrial, which fell by 46.1%, decreasing $629.8 million, followed by the institutional sector, which fell by 22.2%, decreasing $293.1 million. 

“The large decline in the industrial component was due to the lack of major industrial permits issued in March compared with February, which was the second-highest monthly level recorded,” reads the report.

Declines in the non-residential sector were slightly offset by a 5.8% growth in building permits in the commercial sector, which grew to $2.2 billion.

While building permits in the residential sector fell by 8.3%, Ontario led the way with a decrease in value, which fell by $377.4 million. 

Residential building permits grew in Prince Edward Island (+70.4%), Saskatchewan (+10.3%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+7.7%), Quebec (+7.3%),  and Manitoba (+0.9%). 

Residential building permits fell drastically in several provinces. Notably, they decreased in Northwest Territories (-78%), Nova Scotia (-30.2%), Ontario (-13.7%), British Columbia (-12.2%), and Alberta (-7.2%).

In March, 16,800 multi-unit dwellings and 4,200 new single-family homes were authorized nationwide. From April 2023 to March 2024, 260,200 new units were given permits.

For Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fulfil his recent promise of building almost four million new homes by 2031, Canada would have to build 576,786 homes per year.

Between 2015 and 2023, Canada averaged 225,104 houses built per year, according to Statistics Canada.

In a press release issued Monday, the federal Conservatives said that the data reveals that “despite all his photo ops, Justin Trudeau is failing to build the housing Canadians need.”

“Canada is building fewer homes at a time when Canadians are already priced out of the market… Trudeau’s own housing agency has also made clear that Canadians should not expect this trend to change any time soon, with housing permits expected to stay lower through 2024, 2025, and 2026 than they were last year,” added the Conservatives.

Despite housing affordability in Canada reaching an all-time low in April, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation predicts record-high home prices to come in 2025-26.

The average household in Vancouver already has to spend 106.3% of its income to cover homeownership costs.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation forecasts a decrease in housing starts in 2024, attributing the expected decline to persistently high interest rates that are dampening builders’ desire for new construction.

“We anticipate a decline in apartment starts in 2024, following their record-high levels in 2023. Purpose-built rental starts, fueled by unprecedented demand and government support, accounted for over half of these starts. However, unfavourable financing conditions are expected to make more new rental projects unfeasible in 2024,” said the corporation’s report.

The Conservatives’ press release cited that rents in Canada increased around 10% last year, while wages didn’t even rise half that fast.

“Their inflationary budget is just the same failed policies that have seen building permits crater over the last two years,” said the Conservatives. “They want to hold photo ops holding big cheques but have failed to actually incentivize homebuilding.”