Latest stats show extent of Canada’s Covid downturn

Canada’s national statistics agency yesterday released data for April 2020 showing the effect of the coronavirus on investment in construction projects.

The figures from Statistics Canada show that investment in the entire sector fell by around 6% a month between January and March before plunging 43% in April after lockdowns were announced in Quebec and Ontario, which together contain 60% of the population of Canada – and 84% of its coronavirus cases.

Both provinces were unlocked in May, Quebec on the 11th and Ontario on the 14th, by which time employment in construction had fallen by 108,000 jobs and 93,800 jobs, respectively.

The largest and hardest hit sector was residential, which declined 46% in April, and 66% since December 2019.

The two sectors least affected were the relatively small categories of industrial and government work, each about 10% the size of residential. Industrial declined 27% in April and government and institutional work by 22%.

A more fine-grained picture of the effect on Toronto, the commercial capital of Canada, was given by a report from the Building Industry and Land Development Association, published on 8 June.

This looked at the effect on the city’s residential sector, and found a loss of about 9,000 housing starts, delays to more than 8,000 units and the loss of 10,000 jobs among workers, leading to an eventual loss of US$630m in taxes.

Image: Toronto’s empty streets … (Dreamstime/Mykhailova Kateryna)

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