Albertans appear to be flocking one province west to British Columbia in search of jobs following the lingering oil-related downturn, according to figures from Statistics Canada.
B.C.’s reputation as one of Canada’s healthiest provincial economies saw 5,000 more people move there from other parts of the country than those that left in the first quarter of 2016.
More than half of those were from Alberta, a province struggling under the pressure of dropping oil prices, a factor which has sent oil-reliant countries around the world spiraling into economic difficulties.
Nearly 16,750 people still moved to Alberta, showing it still has a significant draw to other Canadians, but the more than 18,500 who left meant a net loss of 1,788 residents, the highest loss of all the provinces.
At the other end of the scale, B.C.’s gain from inter-provincial migration was the largest. Indeed, it was one of only three provinces showing a net inter-provincial gain, one of those being Newfoundland & Labrador, where 15 more people moved in than moved out. The other gainer was Ontario, with a 1,100 net population increase.
Experts say inter-provincial migration is driven almost entirely by economics. Canadians move between provinces because they have a job offer, or they think their chances of getting a job offer is greater elsewhere in the country.
On the flipside, with people moving away from Alberta, companies there may have problems recruiting when the recovery begins, as some say it already has if you remove the negative impact of the recent Fort McMurray wildfire.
International migration figures show precisely how reliant on new immigrants Canada is to keep the population and the economy growing.
The top four receiving provinces received more than 72,500 new immigrants between them in the first quarter of the year, eclipsing any of the gains from inter-provincial migration.
Almost half of the total found their way to Ontario, which received nearly 32,000 new immigrants, followed by Alberta (15,356), Quebec (13,862) and B.C. (11,750).
It shows that immigrants are still drawn to Alberta despite the oil downturn, although those arriving now could well have applied as long ago as three or four years, meaning the effect of the struggling economy may not yet be visible.
On the other hand, B.C. international immigration has been falling over the last decade, mainly due to a drop in direct migration from China. However, Chinese migrants appear to making their way to B.C. indirectly, including through the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), currently being blamed for house price inflation in Vancouver.
Experts say media reports on the red hot housing market have created the perception that B.C., and more specifically Vancouver, is the current ‘place to be’ in Canada.
Despite the apparently healthy international immigration figures, the provinces are pushing for the relaxation of caps on their Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
This has already been seen in Atlantic Canada, where 2,000 extra skilled immigrants will arrive in 2017. This number could rise further in 2018 and 2019 if the new program is deemed a success.
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