Business

Canadian building permits rise in May, but B.C. posts largest decline

Ontario and Manitoba (left and right) saw their building permits increase from April to May, while B.C. (centre) posted Canada
Ontario and Manitoba (left and right) saw their building permits increase from April to May, while B.C. (centre) posted Canada's largest decline.
— image credit: Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Canadian building permit values increased 4.5 per cent to $7.3 billon from April to May, but British Columbia's numbers continued to decline, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

The report says the fifth straight month of increase in permit values was driven mostly by Ontario, Quebec, and then Manitoba, while B.C., Alberta, and Newfoundland decreased.

British Columbia posted the largest decline of any province.

Across the country, residential permit values increased 4.2 per cent to $4.6 billion from month-to-month in May. Non-residential permits rose 5.0 per cent to $2.8 billion.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Toronto's building permits led the way for the Canadian market, but that some are worried of overbuilding during city's permit boom.

Toronto individually saw a 23.6 per cent jump in permits in May, up to $1.44 billion. However, 1 in 10 Canadian households are currently highly indebted, which means they have borrowings topping 250 per cent of their gross income.

"Old habits die hard among builders, and housing risks on both sides remain in play," said Dana Peterson, an economist at Citigroup Global Markets, quoted by Bloomberg. "Household imbalances will remain on the front-burner of the Bank of Canada's list of concerns."

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The news of the permit value strength in Manitoba is another positive economic story out of Canada's prairie province, which only three days earlier also announced its jobless rate had dropped 5.7 per cent from May to June.

Canada's jobless rate remained at 7.1 per cent.

"The national jobless statistics are holding steady, but closer to home, things are looking up," wrote CTV Winnipeg.

5,000 full-time jobs and 2,000 part-time jobs were added in Manitoba, while Canada lost a total 400 jobs nationally.

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