multi-unit housing construction

Multi-unit housing starts remained strong in April

Monday, May 11, 2020

Results from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp’s monthly Starts and Completions Survey (SCS) reveals that construction of multi-unit housing projects remained strong in some provinces in the month of April despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey estimates a 10.8 per cent month-over-month increase in its national seasonally adjusted annual rate for the month compared with March, with growth in multi-family starts in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in April. The April seasonally adjusted annualized rate, excluding Quebec, was 166,415 units — up from 150,224 units in March. Quebec was excluded from the monthly national tally due to COVID-19 containment measures that were in place until April 20.

“Outside of Québec, the national trend in housing starts increased in April, despite the impact of COVID-19 containment measures.” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s chief economist. “This reflects strong growth in multi-family starts in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We expect these provinces to register declines in the near term.”

Key highlights

Multiple dwelling starts in urban areas of Canada (excluding Quebec) were up 35.7 per cent from March, while urban single-family starts fell 27.1 per cent. Rural starts were estimated at 7,285 units.

Ontario accounted for the largest number of starts at 93,628, up 42 per cent.

British Columbia had the second-largest seasonally adjusted rate, at 27,767, down 10 per cent from March. Alberta’s starts were down 28 per cent from March, at a seasonally adjusted rate of 23,262 units.

CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of Canada’s housing market. In some situations, analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.


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