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Housing permits continue to fall in Canada

Building permits in Canada decreased 4.9% in September 2011 compared with August, marking the third consecutive monthly decline, according to Statistics Canada, the government’s national database. Permit activity fell in six provinces, led by British Columbia and Alberta.

The decline nationally was mainly attributable to both the residential and non-residential sectors in British Columbia and the non-residential sector in Alberta. Building permits increased in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.

In the residential sector, however, building permit activity declined 1.0% to C$3.6 billion, following a 6.0% drop in August. The value of permits declined in six provinces, led by British Columbia.

Municipalities issued C$1.4 billion worth of building permits for multi-family dwellings in September, down 2.5% from August and the second consecutive monthly decline. British Columbia accounted for much of the decrease, followed by Quebec. Increases were posted in four provinces, the largest of which was in Ontario.

The value of building permits for single-family dwellings edged down 0.1% to C$2.2 billion, following a 4.0% decrease in August. Declines in the single-family dwelling permit activity in seven provinces, led by British Columbia and Nova Scotia, more than offset gains in Alberta, Quebec and Manitoba.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits fell 11.0% to C$2.0 billion in September, a third consecutive monthly decline. Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario accounted for much of the monthly decline at the national level. Non-residential permits rose in five provinces, led by Saskatchewan and Quebec.

The value of commercial building permits edged down 0.5% to C$1.3 billion in September, after falling 19.6% the previous month. Lower construction intentions for a wide variety of commercial buildings in most provinces were behind the declines. However, the decreases were partly offset by combined gains in office buildings and recreational facilities, primarily in Ontario.

In the institutional component, municipalities issued permits worth C$368 million, down 40.8% from August and the second consecutive monthly decrease. This was the component's lowest level since January 2011. Institutional construction intentions fell in seven provinces. The largest decreases were in building permits for educational institutions in Ontario and British Columbia and medical facilities in Alberta.

Canada’s economy is also suffering from rising unemployment, as the nation shed a net 54,000 jobs in October, its biggest monthly drop since the beginning of the global recession.  

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