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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

June 01, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, comparisons of year-to-date averages and sums do not show Nova Scotia’s rapidly-changing economic situation. The DailyStats will focus on year-over-year comparisons, comparing one month with the same month in the prior year. Where possible the DailyStats will make comparisons of seasonally adjusted data from the pre-COVID-19 period (January and February 2020) with the period during which COVID-19 measures were in place from March 2020 onwards.

Total residential and non-residential construction

Investment in Nova Scotia building construction decreased 0.3 per cent in March 2020 (seasonally adjusted) compared to February 2020. Halifax monthly building construction declined 3.5 per cent in March 2020.  

Nationally, investment in building construction declined 3.6 per cent in March 2020. Construction in March was negatively affected by COVID-19 restrictions, especially in Quebec which shut down all non-essential building construction on March 25. National declines coincided with a drop in construction hours worked in March, as reported by Statistics Canada's Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours. Prince Edward Island reported the strongest monthly gain while Quebec reported the largest monthly decline. 

Year-over-year (Mar 20 vs Mar 19, seasonally adjusted), building construction investment was down 5.6 per cent in Nova Scotia. Halifax construction activity was down 5.8 per cent.  National building construction investment was up 5.9 per cent with five provinces reporting growth over March 2019. The fastest growth was reported in Manitoba (+24.5 per cent) followed by Prince Edward Island (+20.2 per cent) and Ontario (+12.2 per cent).  The fastest declines over this period were reported in Saskatchewan (-17.8 per cent) followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (-12.4 per cent), and New Brunswick (-6.2 per cent).

Total Nova Scotia building construction investment was $293.8 million in March.  In recent years, Halifax has accounted for a rising share of construction activity in the province, particularly for residential investment. Halifax building construction totaled $162.4 million in March, while there was $131.4 million in building construction outside of Halifax.


Residential construction

In March 2020, residential construction investment (seasonally adjusted) in Nova Scotia rose 0.4 per cent to $240.8 million. Halifax residential construction decreased 3.7 per cent to $136.0 million. 

National residential construction decreased 3.3 percent month-to-month as six provinces reported higher residential construction investment in March. The fastest gain was in Newfoundland and Labrador (+15.3 per cent), while the largest decline was in Quebec (-18.7 per cent). Quebec reported its largest decrease since the beginning of the current series in 2010.


Year-over-year (Mar 20 vs Mar 19, seasonally adjusted) residential construction investment was down 7.1 per cent in Nova Scotia. Halifax's residential construction was down 6.8 per cent. 

National residential construction was up 7.1 per cent. Five provinces reported growth for the period, with Manitoba (+25.0) per cent, Prince Edward Island (+17.2 per cent) and Ontario (+12.1 per cent) reporting largest percentage increase. Saskatchewan (-23.0 per cent) and Nova Scotia (-7.1 per cent) reported the largest decline over the March 2019.  


Lower renovations outside of Halifax was the largest factor in the decline compared to March 2019.  In March 2020, new construction is up for single and multiple dwelling units except multiple dwellings outside of Halifax.

Non-residential construction

In March, non-residential building construction declined 3.4 per cent to $53.0 million in Nova Scotia (seasonally adjusted).  In Halifax, non-residential construction was down 2.7 per cent to $26.4 million.

National non-residential building construction declined 4.3 per cent in March. All provinces reported monthly declines except Prince Edward Island, with the fastest decline reported in Quebec (-13.9 per cent). Prince Edward Island reported the monthly gain (+1.4 per cent). The increase was driven, in part, by the expansion of BioVectra's manufacturing facility in Charlottetown.

Year-over-year (Mar 20 vs Mar 19, seasonally adjusted) Nova Scotia's non-residential construction (seasonally adjusted) was up 1.4 per cent.  Halifax's non-residential construction was down 0.1 per cent year-over-year.

National non-residential construction investment rose 3.5 per cent. The fastest growth was reported in Prince Edward Island (+31.5 per cent) and Manitoba (+23.8 per cent).  The fastest decline was reported in Newfoundland and Labrador (-21.3 per cent) and Alberta (-12.9 per cent).


Year-over-year (Mar 20 vs Mar 19) Nova Scotia non-residential building construction increases were concentrated in Halifax commercial projects and commercial and institutional/government projects in outside of Halifax. Industrial non-residential building construction was lower both in and outside of Halifax.



Statistics Canada.  Table  34-10-0175-01   Investment in Building Construction

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