Housing starts rose from 166.5K in April to 193.5K in May (seasonally adjusted and annualized). Urban starts improved 22K to 181.1K on increases in both the multi-unit (+14.9K to 135.9K) and the single-detached (+7.1K to 45.3K) segments. At the provincial level, urban starts shot up in Quebec from 0K in April to 56.3K as social distancing measures were eased but plunged 37.1K to 56.5K in Ontario. June results should provide a clearer snapshot of the post-lockdown residential construction industry in Canada. Projects delayed on account of the Covid-19 pandemic might sustain starts at a relatively high level for a short while but the longer-term horizon looks less promising in light of much higher joblessness and reduced immigration. Moreover, tougher CMHC standards for mortgage insurance will likely exclude some potential buyers by shrinking their purchasing power. We estimate that the new rules governing maximum gross debt service will reduce by about 11% the amount that the median Canadian household will be allowed to borrow.

Source: NBA Economics and Strategy