Canadian census data shows a nation on the move

Canadians, it seems, are on the whole moving from larger provinces to smaller ones.

This is one of the conclusions of Statistics Canada’s release of mobility and migration data from the 2021 Census.

In the census, Canadians were asked which province they currently lived in and which province they lived in one year ago and five years ago.

When the numbers are calculated, the Maritime provinces, along with British Columbia and the Yukon, are the only places that show a net influx of people in the five years preceding the census.

When only the year preceding the census is considered, Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec can be added to this list.

To be fair, the numbers represent only a fraction of the population of these provinces. In the most extreme case – Nova Scotia in the five-year data – the net influx of people is only 2.65% of the province’s population in 2021.

But it does support the anecdotal idea that in recent years more and more Canadians have turned their eyes east.

For Craig Jones, the figures also suggest some differences in the type of immigration to the eastern provinces.

Jones, a doctoral candidate in geography at UBC, studies interprovincial and intraprovincial migration in Canada.

Nova Scotia’s population growth due to interprovincial migration in the five years prior to the census was 25,725. During the same period, the province’s overall population growth was 46,000. This means that more than 50% of Nova Scotia’s population increase is the result of interprovincial migration.

In contrast, Ontario recorded a net outflow of 9,500 people over the same period—more outflows than inflows. But the population of the province during this period increased by 800 thousand people.

Which would seem to indicate, Jones said, that the reasons for these population increases are different.

“Nova Scotia’s population growth is largely driven by interprovincial migration, while Ontario’s population growth is largely driven by international immigration,” he says.

For the most part, these interprovincial migrants to most provinces come from Ontario.

During the five-year period preceding the census, the greatest number of migrants to the four provinces of Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Manitoba and Nunavut came from Ontario.

This seems to speak of a massive emigration from Ontario, but according to StatCan figures, this is not quite the case.

The number of people leaving Ontario is largely offset by the number of people arriving in the province from elsewhere in the country.

In Ontario, 238,140 people left the province in the five years preceding the census to live elsewhere in the country. During the same period, 228,640 people migrated to Ontario from other parts of Canada.

This represents a net out-migration of 9,500 people, or 0.07% of Ontario’s population.

Figures reported for the one-year period prior to the census show a slight difference in the net number of people leaving Ontario.

In the year before the census, 88,720 people left the province to live elsewhere in the country, compared to 53,850 who migrated to Ontario.

This is a net loss of 34,870 people for Ontario, more than over the five-year period, but still representing only 0.25% of the province’s population.

« It’s almost certainly not ‘statistically significant,’ Jones said. « It’s hard to know if there’s a cause, or if it’s just people moving. »

In fact, over the five-year period, Ontario averaged an outflow of 47,628 people per year. and an influx of 45,728, for a total of 93,356 movements inside and outside the province on average annually during this period.

In the year before the census – essentially May 2020 to May 2021, more or less the first year of the coronavirus pandemic – 88,720 left Ontario for other parts of Canada and 53,850 are entered the province, a total of 142,570.

Thus, while it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about the net movement of migrants to and from Ontario, it is reasonable to say that during this period the number of people on the move has significantly increased. increase.

« I think what’s interesting is that people are just moving, there’s mobility, » says Laura Bisaillon, professor of sociology and immigration at the University of Toronto. “And other questions arise.

“I think of things that have happened here, like COVID, like all kinds of media about the attractiveness of the Maritimes. And you also have the demographic reality of baby boomers retiring and moving or moving seasonally.

“Baby boomers are the wealthiest people of the 21st century. They have a lot of wealth, in general. So they have a lot of purchasing power, a lot of invested wealth, a lot of property.

Statistics Canada also indicates, with few exceptions, that Ontario is the most popular choice for migrants from other provinces.

These exceptions include Saskatchewan, where more people moved to Alberta; the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, where more people moved to British Columbia and Alberta respectively; and Alberta and British Columbia, which were each other’s largest migrant partners.

In fact, in absolute numbers, the largest movement of Canadians in the five-year period preceding the census was from Alberta to British Columbia, followed by Ontarians moving to British Columbia.


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