Is housing construction in Canada slowing down?

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland. Labeled for reuse on Google images.

A new report seems to indicate that Canada’s housing construction is starting to trend lower.

According to the September 2021 report from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), released on Monday, Canada-wide starts in housing construction came to 271,068, down from 284,757 in August for a 5.1 per cent drop. The trend is a six-month moving average.

The CHMC uses this data as a companion to the monthly seasonally-adjusted annual rates (SAAR) statistics, to get a feel for the Canadian housing market, though reporting SAAR stats alone can be misleading with multi-unit housing driving the market.

“The six-month trend in housing starts declined from August to September, with total starts continuing to pull back from their earlier 2021 levels,” said CMHC Chief Economist Bob Dugan. “Single-detached and multi-family starts were both lower in Canada’s urban areas in September, which led to a decline in overall SAAR starts for the month.”

Dugan added, however, that the level of Canadian housing starts remains very high. Among the top-three real estate markets of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, only the latter did not report growth in total SAAR starts.

The province of Ontario also reported a drop in trends for September, a five per cent decline in overall trends to 101,709.

For individual markets in September, new home construction starts in Windsor-Essex dropped year-to-year to 65 in 2021, from 210 in 2020. In Chatham-Kent, there were 29 construction starts in September, down from 49 the year before.

Construction starts went up, though, in London-Middlesex, with 433 this September compared to 389 in 2020.

Complete numbers on housing starts can be found at the CMHC’s interactive online portal.