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Canadian housing starts jump for a second month

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Ottawa, ON — Following declines in previous months from COVID-19 measures, housing starts in Canada rose in July, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada was 245,604 units in July, an increase of 15.8% from 212,095 units in June, the highest level since November 2017.

The SAAR of urban starts increased by 17.4 per cent in July to 231,995 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 18.8 per cent to 184,431 units in July while single-detached urban starts increased by 12.3 per cent to 47,564 units.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13,609 units.

According to CMHC’s chief economist, higher activity in June and July leaves the trend in housing starts in line with the long-run average level of housing starts. “Higher multi-family starts in major urban areas, including Toronto, Vancouver and oil-producing centres in the Prairies drove the national increase,” said Bob Dugan. “We expect national starts to trend lower in the near term as a result of the negative impact of COVID-19 on economic and housing indicators.”

In Toronto, housing starts jumped 22 per cent to 48,466 units on an annualized seasonally adjusted basis. New construction also climbed in more affordable areas outside of Toronto, such as Hamilton and the St. Catharines-Niagara area.

In Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon, cities that have suffered from two oil price crashes in a decade, new construction jumped from June to July, but remained below pre-pandemic levels. In Atlantic Canada, housing starts more than doubled in Halifax, Saint John and Moncton.

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