Industry data revealed Wednesday that Canadian housing starts moved up in March, led by higher multiple housing starts in Ontario and Quebec.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts increased to 154,700 units in March from 136,100 units in February, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Higher multiple starts in Ontario and Quebec were the main contributors to the rise in new construction activity in March, said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. While the multiples segment experienced the largest increase, the overall boost in starts was broad based, encompassing the singles segment as well.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased 17 per cent to 127,900 units in March. Urban multiple starts increased 28.3 per cent to 81,500 units, while urban single starts moved up by 1.3 per cent to 46,400 units in March.

March's seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 35 per cent in Ontario and by 23.3 per cent in Quebec. Urban starts declined by 17.3 per cent in British Columbia, by 7.9 per cent in Atlantic Canada, and by 7.5 per cent in the Prairies.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 26,800 units in March.

The report noted that new home construction is now at a more sustainable level after having been exceptionally strong over the past 7 years, exceeding 200,000 units per year.