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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

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

June 22, 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 40.6 per cent in April 2020 (seasonally adjusted) compared to March 2020. Halifax monthly building construction declined 32.5 per cent in April 2020.  

Nationally, investment in building construction declined 45.9 per cent in April 2020, the largest decline since the start of current series (2010). Public health measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 severely impacted the construction industry in April as the largest provinces in the country shut down all non-essential construction sites. All provinces showed monthly decline with the largest decline in Quebec (-80.6 per cent) and Ontario (-48.5 per cent).

Year-over-year (Apr 20 vs Apr 19, seasonally adjusted), building construction investment was down 43.8 per cent in Nova Scotia. Halifax construction activity was down 37.9 per cent. National building construction investment was down 43.9 per cent with all provinces reporting decline over April 2019. The fastest declines over this period were reported in Quebec (-82.1 per cent) followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (-47.8 per cent), Nova Scotia (-43.8 per cent) and Ontario (-42.1 per cent).

Total Nova Scotia building construction investment was $173.5 million in April.  In recent years, Halifax has accounted for a rising share of construction activity in the province, particularly for residential investment. Halifax building construction totaled $109.4 million in April, while there was $64.1 million in building construction outside of Halifax.


Residential construction

In April 2020, residential construction investment (seasonally adjusted) in Nova Scotia declined 50.2 per cent to $119.0 million. Halifax residential construction decreased 40.8 per cent to $80.1 million. 

National residential construction decreased 49.2 percent month-to-month as all provinces reported lower residential construction investment in April. The fastest decline was reported in Quebec (-77.6 per cent) followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (-63.6 per cent), Prince Edward Island (-54.9 per cent), and Nova Scotia (-50.2 per cent). In Quebec, all new residential construction sites remained closed through April 20, while in Ontario, all non-essential renovation construction was halted in accordance with public health requirements.


Year-over-year (Apr 20 vs Apr 19, seasonally adjusted) residential construction investment was down 53.8 per cent in Nova Scotia. Halifax's residential construction was down 46.9 per cent. 

National residential construction was down 47.2 per cent. All provinces reported lower residential construction investment for the period, with Quebec (-79.9 per cent), Newfoundland and Labrador (-66.6 per cent), Nova Scotia (-53.8 per cent) and New Brunswick (-52.7 per cent) reporting largest percentage decrease. 

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

Non-residential construction

In April, non-residential building construction increased 2.9 per cent to $54.5 million in Nova Scotia (seasonally adjusted). In Halifax, non-residential construction was up 9.5 per cent to $29.2 million.

National non-residential building construction declined 38.8 per cent in April. During this time, non-residential construction was largely shut down in Ontario and Quebec, while other provinces and territories allowed work to continue with strict public health measures in place. Five provinces reported monthly modest gains, with the fastest gain in Nova Scotia (+2.9 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (+2.3 per cent). The fastest declines were in Quebec (-86.7 per cent) and Ontario (-52.6 per cent).

Year-over-year (Apr 20 vs Apr 19, seasonally adjusted) Nova Scotia's non-residential construction (seasonally adjusted) was up 6.6 per cent. Halifax's non-residential construction was up 15.6 per cent year-over-year.

National non-residential construction investment declined 36.7 per cent. The fastest growth was reported in Prince Edward Island (+34.3 per cent) and Manitoba (+23.2 per cent). The fastest decline was reported in Quebec (-86.9 per cent) and Ontario (-46.2 per cent).


Year-over-year (Apr 20 vs Apr 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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