Canada's house construction jumped in March helped mostly by an increase in rural building.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said 188,800 units were added in March on a seasonally adjusted annual rate, up 183,700 units in February 2011.

"Housing starts moved higher in March mostly because of increases in rural starts," said Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. "Urban starts saw little change as the increase in Ontario's multiples segment was off-set by a decrease in British Columbia's multiples and a decrease in single housing starts in the Prairies."

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased by 0.4 per cent to 163,500 units in March, while urban multiple starts were up by 6.6 per cent in the month to 101,400 units. Single urban starts decreased by 8.3 per cent to 62,100 units.

March's seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased by 23.4 per cent in British Columbia and by 19.3 per cent in the Prairies. Urban starts increased by 13.6 per cent in Ontario, by 11.5 per cent in the Atlantic region and by 8.6 per cent in Québec.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 25,300 units in March.