According to Statistics Canada data for April 2020, investment in building construction took a steep plunge, dropping 45.9% month-over-month.
Before April, the largest national month-over-month decline since 2010 was just 3.9% in August 2017. In other words, COVID’s impact on building construction in April was essentially 10x when compared to previous years in the past decade. This drop occurred despite the fact that many construction sites managed to remain open as essential services in several provinces, including Ontario.
Both residential (-49.2%) and non-residential (-38.8%) sectors saw record declines in April, while Ontario reported the largest overall decline in investment (-$3.2 billion).
According to Stats Can, every single province and territory recorded double-digit declines in residential investment in April, with Ontario (-46.8% to $2.4 billion) seeing the largest monetary decline and second-highest percentage decrease after Quebec (-77.6% to $457 million).
With nearly all renovations suspended throughout April nationwide, single-family homes (-54.7%) took a larger hit than multi-family dwellings (-43.5%).
That said, as construction firms implemented public health requirements – including on-site sanitation, physical distancing, and staggered work schedules – new residential construction actually managed to increase by 11.7% year-over-year on an unadjusted basis.
When it comes to non-residential investment in April, five provinces managed to post gains, however, Ontario was not one of those provinces as it saw a -$905.3 million decline.
Just this morning, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) released the results from a survey of its members from mid-May that found nearly 500 active construction projects, representing 156,000 units at various stages of construction, had been delayed as a result of COVID-19. Of those delays, 276 of the projects are located in Toronto proper.