May 27, 2020 / 1:19 PM / a month ago

Canada building permits slump 17.1% in April

FILE PHOTO: Workers guide equipment at a condominium development in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada February 21, 2019. REUTERS/John Morris

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The value of Canadian building permits slumped by 17.1% in April, the largest decline recorded since October 2008, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday, as the coronavirus pandemic caused officials to shutter non-essential construction in parts of Canada.

Officials closed most non-essential businesses in Canada, starting in mid-March, as they urged people to stay at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but in recent weeks, several provinces have begun to slowly reopen their economies.

Eight Canadian provinces posted declines, Statscan said, with the largest drops reported in Canada’s two most populous provinces: Ontario (-20%) and Quebec (-34.1%).

Residential permits for single-family dwellings fell a record 35.9%, the largest month-over-month decline recorded in the current data series, which began in 2002. Permit issuances for multi-family dwellings, however, rose 4.8% in April.

Meanwhile, commercial permits were down 21.5% in April, with the largest decline reported in Quebec. Industrial permits fell 34.7% in April following gains in March, with six Canadian provinces posting declines.

Reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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