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No surprise, home building off to slow start

CMHC expects COVID-19 measures to impact home starts in 2020
North Bay home construction (2012)

The global pandemic and the cessation of all 'non-essential' construction by the provincial government this spring put the brakes on new home starts in Northern Ontario's two largest cities.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released the May housing starts showing only two single-detached starts in Greater Sudbury, compared to seven in May 2019.

Thunder Bay registered three starts last month, compared to eight during the same time last year.

Home construction in Ontario resumed on May 19 as per the first phase of the provincial government's reopening plan.

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What's categorized by CMHC as other types of multi-residential dwellings listed four starts in Greater Sudbury in May, compared to 11 in May 2019.

In Thunder Bay, construction in the 'other' dwelling categories was actually up 69 per cent. CMHC recorded 27 starts in the city last month compared to only 16 in May 2019.

The trend in housing starts was 196,750 units in May 2020, down from 198,644 units in April 2020. Excluding Quebec, the trend was 151,072 units in May 2020, down from 155,600 units in April 2020. Residential construction in Québec resumed on April 20.

"Outside of Quebec, the national trend in housing starts decreased in May," said CMHC's chief economist Bob Dugan in a June 8 news release.

"Higher multi-family starts in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces were offset by declines in British Columbia and the Prairies. We expect national starts to continue to register declines in the near term, reflecting the impact of COVID-19 measures."