On September 9, Statistics Canada reported over 43,000 itinerant aircraft movements (take-offs and landings) at major Canadian airports with NAV CANADA control towers for the week ending August 28. After border closures and public health restrictions took effect in March, total movements fell to a low of just over 14,100 (unadjusted) during the week ending April 18. Total movements have steadily increased since, driven mainly by domestic flights, albeit with fewer passengers, and by more dedicated cargo traffic resulting from the surge in e-commerce sales. However, this year’s summer travel season was anything but busy. Domestic aircraft movements for the 12 week period ending August 28 were at 87% of the total for the 12 week period before the March restrictions, while trans-border (Canada – U.S.) and overseas movements both remain more than one-fifth below their pre-pandemic level.

August marked the fifth consecutive full month of restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-US border. And cross border travel remained low according to Statistics Canada’s Leading indicator of cross-border traveller volume, released on September 11th. In August at the 111 land ports equipped with electronic sensors, automobile arrivals to Canada by US residents were more than 95% lower than August of 2019. Similarly, the number of Canadian residents returning from the United States by automobile through these same land ports was more than 95% below last year. Canada and the United States temporarily restricted non-essential travel across the land border in the second half of March and these restrictions will remain in effect at least until September 21, 2020.

According to the September 10th Commercial rents services price index report, average commercial rents fell nationally by just over 3% during the second quarter of 2020. The drop was similar for all building types – offices, retail and industrial buildings and warehouses. Average rents were down across the country, with declines more acute in some Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA). For example, average rental rates for retail buildings fell by over 13% in Calgary and for offices by about 11% in Montréal. Office rents remained more or less the same in the Toronto CMA but rents for industrial building and warehouses were down by almost 6%. While the extent to which COVID-19 was directly associated with these declines is not known, the long-term outlook of the commercial real estate market remains uncertain with many employees working from home and the recent shift in retail to online sales.

On September 11th, the agency released the national balance sheet accounts for the second quarter. The data underscore the extraordinary impacts that COVID-19 has had on financial conditions in the household sector. After a record decline in the first quarter, the net worth of households rose 5.0% to $11.96 trillion in the second, supported by gains in equity markets and in the value of residential real estate. Residential resale sales volumes strengthened markedly in June after grinding to a crawl in April and May due to COVID-19 related restrictions.

Households sharply decreased their borrowing in the second quarter. Total credit market borrowing fell to $0.9 billion, down from $26.0 billion in the first. The decline was a result of a sharp decrease in non-mortgage and consumer credit borrowing, as households reduced their principal balance at a much faster pace than they added new debt as household spending contracted sharply.

Household credit market debt as a proportion of household disposable income fell to 158.2% in the second quarter, down from 175.4% in the first, as disposable income rose sharply while the stock of credit market debt remained relatively unchanged. The household debt service ratio dropped from 14.54% to 12.40%, the largest decline on record.

Source: Statistics Canada