Skip to main content

A housing project under construction on the UBC campus in Vancouver on April 23, 2019.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

The pace of housing starts climbed in January from a month earlier on gains in Ontario and Quebec while starts declined in Western Canada, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

The federal housing agency said Monday that January saw a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 213,224 units started, up 8.8 per cent from the 195,892 starts in December. Of those, rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 10,817 units.

Gains were concentrated in multifamily buildings such as apartments and condos that saw a 13.2-per-cent increase in starts, while single-detached home starts slipped 2.1 per cent to 55,100 units.

Story continues below advertisement

Economists had expected an annualized rate of 205,000 units, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Construction activity gains reflected regional economic strengths, but analysts noted that weather may have played an outsized role at this time of year.

“Milder-than-normal weather conditions in Central Canada likely boosted construction in Ontario and Quebec while inclement weather probably dragged down activity in B.C. and parts of the Atlantic region,” Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Rishi Sondhi said in a note.

“That said, the nice upside surprise in homebuilding also speaks to supportive fundamentals, including sharply rising home prices, low interest rates, robust population growth, low rental vacancy rates in key markets and programs to incent rental construction.”

Quebec saw a big jump of 41,000 units to 77,000 to reach the second highest level for the province since the 1990s, while Ontario saw gains of 12,400 to what Mr. Sondhi said was a “relatively low” level of 69,500 units. Out west, Alberta saw a drop of 16,900 to 22,700 and B.C. dropped 16,600 to 26,200 units.

Weather variances aside, the market showed strong underpinnings that could lead the Bank of Canada to hold off on a rate cut, Bank of Montreal senior economist Jennifer Lee said in a note.

“Strong immigration and still-low rates continue to support Canadian housing. Despite the usual month-to-month volatility, starts remain solid and a reason why the BoC may be hesitant to cut rates.”

Story continues below advertisement

The longer-term trend looked stable, CMHC said, as the six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts edged down to 210,915 in January compared with 212,212 in December.

Building permit data released by Statistics Canada on Monday showed that more construction is on the way, as the total value of building permits in December rose 7.4 per cent to $8.7-billion from a month earlier.

Analysts had expected an increase of 2.3 per cent, according to Refinitiv.

The data showed similar trends to housing starts, as the value of multifamily permits climbed 15.9 per cent to $2.9-billion in the month, while single-family permits were down 3.2 per cent to $2.2-billion.

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies