Our monthly Starts and Completions Survey (SCS) for April was conducted in each province with the exception of Québec, following the introduction of pandemic measures in the province in late March. Residential construction in Québec resumed on April 20. We will resume the SCS in Québec in May. This release includes national housing starts totals without Québec in order to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic where the SCS survey was conducted.
The trend in housing starts was 199,589 units in April 2020, down from 204,899 units in March 2020. Excluding Quebec, the trend was 155,995 units in April 2020, up from 154,463 units in March 2020. This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts
“Outside of Quebec, 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.”
Standalone Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) — excluding Quebec
- The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada excluding Quebec saw an increase of 10.8% in April from March.
- The SAAR of urban starts increased by 12.4% in April.
- Multiple urban starts increased by 35.7% while single-detached urban starts decreased by 27.1%.
About Housing Starts
Like many other government organizations, businesses and individuals, we are closely following developments around COVID-19. The monthly release of our Preliminary Housing Starts data will continue as planned. CMHC will report any impact on our ability to collect housing data.
We track housing starts to gain insight into housing supply.
A housing start is defined as the beginning of construction work on the building where the dwelling unit will be located. This can be described in 2 ways:
- usually, the stage when the concrete has been poured for the whole of the footing around the structure; or
- an equivalent stage where a basement will not be part of the structure.
We release Canadian housing starts every month on the 6th working day.
The time of year can be a factor when collecting data.
We use a rate adjustment to remove the data’s seasonal variations. We then multiply the seasonally adjusted level of starts by 12 to obtain the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of housing starts. The SAAR allows you to compare monthly levels to annual levels for different months of the year. It also gives you a sense of the relative strength of monthly activity.
CMHC uses the 6-month average SAAR with the monthly SAAR of housing starts to obtain a more complete picture of trends in the market.
Providing information on housing starts is another way CMHC supports you in making decisions on housing affordability and contributes to the stability of housing markets in Canada.