The rise came on the back of a 7.6 percent increase in February and included building intentions in eight of the 10 provinces, the report said.
March's advance was largely based on new permits for both institutional and commercial buildings, mostly in Ontario.
"In the non-residential sector, the value of permits rose 13.9 percent to $2.9 billion, following a 37.7 percent increase the previous month," StatsCan said. "This was the highest level since June 2010."
Within the non-residential sector, permits for institutional buildings were up 88.4 percent to $973 million, following a 64.6 percent increase in February.
In the residential sector, 17,650 permits were issued for all types of dwellings, a 2.1 percent gain over February, the report said.