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July 21, 2020

Total residential and non-residential construction

Investment in Nova Scotia building construction increased 51.9 per cent in May 2020 (seasonally adjusted) compared to April 2020. Halifax monthly building construction increased 35.0 per cent in May 2020.  

Nationally, investment in building construction increased 60.1 per cent in May 2020, partially rebounding from large declines in April. The easing of COVID-19 construction restrictions in May, most notably in Ontario and Quebec, led to growth in all components of residential and non-residential investment. Despite rebounding strongly in May, investment levels remained 16.5 per cent below the level observed in February 2020. All provinces showed monthly increase with the largest increase in Quebec (+349.9 per cent), Ontario (+63.2 per cent), and Nova Scotia (+51.9 per cent).

Year-over-year (May 20 vs May 19, seasonally adjusted), building construction investment was down 6.8 per cent in Nova Scotia. Halifax construction activity was down 9.8 per cent. National building construction investment was down 12.3 per cent with all provinces reporting decline over May 2019. The fastest declines over this period were reported in Newfoundland and Labrador (-40.7 per cent) followed by British Columbia (-23.6 per cent) and Quebec (-20.3 per cent).

Total Nova Scotia building construction investment was $263.5 million in May.  Halifax building construction totaled $148.5 million in May, while there was $115.0 million in building construction outside of Halifax.


Residential construction

In May 2020, residential construction investment (seasonally adjusted) in Nova Scotia increased 75.1 per cent to $208.8 million. Halifax residential construction increased 46.8 per cent to $118.6 million. 

National residential construction increased 57.0 percent month-to-month as all provinces reported higher residential construction investment in May 2020. The fastest increase was reported in Quebec (+235.1 per cent) followed by New Brunswick (+115.0 per cent), and Nova Scotia (+75.1 per cent). In May 2020, all provinces gained with strong growth after sharp declines in April but national residential investment remained 22.7 per cent lower than February 2020.

Year-over-year (May 20 vs May 19, seasonally adjusted) residential construction investment was down 10.4 per cent in Nova Scotia. Halifax's residential construction was down 15.3 per cent. 

National residential construction was down 19.6 per cent. All provinces reported lower residential construction investment for the period, with Newfoundland and Labrador (-54.8 per cent), Quebec (-33.1 per cent), and British Columbia (-31.2 per cent) reporting largest percentage decrease. 

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

Non-residential construction

In May, non-residential building construction increased 0.8 per cent to $54.7 million in Nova Scotia (seasonally adjusted). In Halifax, non-residential construction was up 2.4 per cent to $29.8 million.

National non-residential building construction increased 65.6 per cent in May. Five provinces reported monthly gains, with the fastest gain in Quebec (+743.9 per cent) and Ontario (+107.8 per cent). The fastest declines were in Prince Edward Island (-6.4 per cent) and New Brunswick (-4.9 per cent).

Year-over-year (May 20 vs May 19, seasonally adjusted) Nova Scotia's non-residential construction (seasonally adjusted) was up 9.9 per cent. Halifax's non-residential construction was up 21.7 per cent year-over-year.

National non-residential construction investment increased 3.6 per cent. The fastest growth was reported in Manitoba (+23.7 per cent), Prince Edward Island (+20.9 per cent) and Ontario (+10.4 per cent). The fastest decline was reported in Newfoundland and Labrador (-23.0 per cent), New Brunswick (-19.4 per cent) and Saskatchewan (-13.1 per cent).

Year-over-year (May 20 vs May 19) Nova Scotia non-residential building construction increases were concentrated in Halifax commercial projects. 


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.

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