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Statistics Canada reports that the easing of COVID-19 construction restrictions in May, especially in Ontario and Quebec, has resulted in some growth in all types of residential and non-residential construction industry investment in Canada.

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Total investment in building construction increased 60.1 percent to $13.4 billion in May, partly rebounding from significant declines in April. But investment levels remained 16.5 percent below February 2020, prior to the full manifestation of the pandemic.

Provinces started to reopen construction in May, with Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island making the most impactful policy changes. In Ontario, some non-residential construction projects were reopened starting May 4. The province moved into Stage 1  on May 19, which included a full resumption of construction projects.

In Quebec, the construction industry was authorized to resume activity on May 11 under strict guidelines. In Prince Edward Island, new construction projects began May 1.

Residential

Investment in residential construction increased 57.0 percent to $8.4 billion in May. Investment in single-unit construction recovered by 71.7 percent to $4.1 billion, exceeding multi-unit growth which increased 45.2 percent to $4.3 billion. Ontario and Quebec reported the largest gains, however, all provinces bounced back somewhat from declines in April. Compared with February residential investment remained 22.7 percent lower.

Non-residential

Non-residential construction investment rose from 65.6 percent to $4.9 billion in May, with increases in Ontario and Quebec offsetting declines in five other provinces.

The commercial component represented the majority of non-residential construction gains, up 99.0 percent to $2.9 billion. Nearly all of the increase was in Ontario and Quebec, with both provinces returning to more regular construction activity, but they still remained slightly lower than February. Manitoba (+0.4 percent) was the only other province to report growth for the month.

Gains in both the industrial (+35.1 percent) and institutional (+32.9 percent) sectors were also led by increases in Ontario and Quebec. Nationally, industrial and institutional were still down 4.7 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, from February levels.