Source: Unsplash

The annual pace of housing starts increased by 14% last month, according to a new report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

National housing agency CMHC released a report on Friday detailing that 253,468 units began construction in February, up from 223,176 in January.  

“Following two consecutive monthly declines, both the SAAR and Trend of housing starts increased in February,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC’s Chief Economist.

“This was due to growth in actual year-over-year starts, driven by higher multi-unit starts, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver. As the national housing shortage continues, the focus for developers continues to shift towards multi-unit construction in Canada’s major centres.” 

Housing starts were highest in Toronto and Vancouver and lowest in Montreal.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has been openly critical of Montreal’s lagging housing supply, calling Mayor Valerie Plante “incompetent” over her handling of housing. 

“Massive drop in construction in Quebec, while Trudeau gives billions to incompetent mayors, Marchand and Plante, who block construction sites,” Poilievre wrote in a post to X. “Federal money for cities will be tied to the number of houses and apartments built when I’m PM.”

According to the report, the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rates annual rate of rural starts is estimated at 14,835 units and SAARS increased by 15% in urban centres, with 238,633 units recorded. 

The national housing agency uses these records as a measurement to “obtain a clearer picture of upcoming new housing supply” and “deepen understanding of complex housing issues to inform future policy decisions.”

“The CMCH provides unbiased data aimed at helping the stability of the housing market and financial system,” reads the report. 

A CIBC report published last month estimates Canada will need to build at least five million units by 2030 to meet the country’s growing population.

Despite the skyrocketing demand, the CMHC only recorded 240,267 housing starts in Canada last year.