Canada’s Young Adults Are Dumping Ontario For Alberta, BC, & Nova Scotia

Ontario real estate will rise forever, since young adults wouldn’t move, right? That’s not what interprovincial migration data from Statistics Canada (Stat Can) shows. We talked about Ontario’s record outflows in Q2 2022, yesterday. The demographic moving deserves a deeper dive though, and where they’re moving is an important point to consider. A perfect storm of expensive housing, low wages, and collapsing services are sending Ontario’s growth engines to other provinces. Now young adults and prime-aged workers are fleeing to Alberta, BC, and Nova Scotia.

Interprovincial Migration and Age Demographics

Interprovincial migration is the net balance of people migrating between provinces across Canada. The net balance is the total inflow from other provinces, minus the outflow to them. Positive numbers are good news, since it means a province is gaining and retaining people. Negative numbers are bad news, since it means the province is losing people and can’t retain them.

Negative interprovincial flows don’t mean a population is shrinking, so they’re often ignored. After all, if a population is growing, it doesn’t matter who leaves, right? It’s a huge mistake to think like that, and it’s how regions suffer long-term collapses.

If residents don’t see local opportunity, how long until immigrants see the issue as well? Moving across the world is already tough, so why put up with a second-tier experience? A province that fails to compete with its local talent will also fail to compete for immigrants. Coasting on a reputation works, until it doesn’t. Once it doesn’t, it’s a long process to regain that reputation.

Ontario Is Broken For Young Adults and Prime Workers

Young adults between 18 and 24 years old are one of the important demographics in a country. They should have the most disposable income, and represent future growth. It’s a demographic that creates the energy in the city, and provides entry-level labor. They decide if the region is good enough to have a family, which produces long-term growth. 

Ontario Is Failing To Attract Young Adults & Prime Aged Workers Like Never Before

The annual net interprovincial migration of young adults (18-24 years old) and prime-aged workers in Ontario. The province typically sees growth during booms and plunges during busts. It didn’t see growth during the boom, and the losses are now at the worst level in history.

Source: Statistics Canada; Better Dwelling.

Ontario has no clue how to retain or attract this demographic of Canadians. In Q2 2022, the annual net outflow for this age group hit 13,900 people. That’s a lot more people from 18 to 24 years old that left than arrived. Back in 2018, only a minor loss was occurring — and this latest number is more than 41x larger. The province is hemorrhaging young adults to other regions, which will stifle growth.

Where are they moving? Almost everywhere else. Alberta (+4,700) saw the biggest net inflow of any province for people 18 to 24 years old. Nova Scotia (+4,000) and New Brunswick (+2,400) were also punching way above their weight. It’s worth noting that all three of these provinces are much more affordable than Ontario.

Canada’s Young Adults Are Fleeing Ontario & Moving To Alberta, BC, and Nova Scotia

The net flow of interprovincial migration of young adults (18-24 years old) across Canada. This number serves as an indicator of long-term growth.

Source: Statistics Canada; Better Dwelling.

Ontario Is Losing Prime Workers To Alberta, BC, and Nova Scotia

Ontario’s youngest adults aren’t the only ones fleeing — so are “prime aged workers.” These are people from 24 to 44 years old, and entering their peak demographic years. That means they’ll hit their peak earnings growth, and have families. Attracting this demographic is a great sign you’re doing things right. People see a future there, and economic growth follows naturally. 

Ontario, once again, is sending an important demographic running for the hills… or ocean. The province lost 15,900 more prime-aged workers to other provinces, than it gained. This is new for Ontario, which was positive until 2020, up to the low rate bubble. The following outflow over the next two years was large enough to reverse more than 3 years of inflows.

Ontario Is Losing Prime-Aged Workers To Other Provinces

The net interprovincial migration of prime-aged workers (24-44 years old), an indicator of near- and medium-term growth.

Source: Statistics Canada; Better Dwelling.

Where are Canada’s prime-aged workers heading? British Columbia (+9,200) saw the largest net inflow of this demographic in Q2 2022. If you’re paying a premium, it might as well be for the best weather, right? Alberta (+8,800) and Nova Scotia (+4,700) both saw massive inflows, attributed to affordability.

Many people dismiss outflows since immigration can patch over the issue. It’s true, since Ontario is home to Toronto, it’s a strong immigration hub and will continue to be for the time being.

However, if the province is losing residents, what stops it from losing immigrants? At some point, immigrants will begin to realize everyone is fleeing. They’ll also flow towards the opportunity, as they should. 

11 Comments

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  • dave frazer 2 months ago

    Nova scotia has cheap real estate,very high taxes ,very expensive hydro, no doctors available for new residents, not even medical clinics other than in the Halifax areas, lots of moskitos and blackflys. Tried it for 3 yrs moved back to B.C.
    Alberta is cold Edmonton very cold and full of blackflys, Calgary is much better. For reasonable real estate BC/ Alberta border region is not too bad .
    B.C also has a doctor problem particularly in Victoria so before moving think about it all.

    • Klein madchen 2 months ago

      Ontario has long ER lines 20 hours plus.
      Also famous for bedbugs infestation, can’t beat that.

    • LT 2 months ago

      As a person on their “prime” and living on Vancouver Island I will say that I’d you think BC is better than Ontario you are sadly mistaken. Pay is worse here and housing is impossible. We have officially over-taken Ontario for the least affordable housing in the country 😞

  • Gilt 2 months ago

    If they aren’t moving physically, they are moving spiritually like a few of my friends who died from suicide or overdose.

    They can’t afford to leave as they have no money. RIP Jacob, Avinash and Brett. Hope you are in a better place than the living capitalist hell called Toronto.

    Mosquitoes and flies are the least of our problems for Gen Y and Gen Z.

    There is no future in Toronto for young people who are not rich.

    Wealth inequality in Toronto is like a third world country.

  • Raden 2 months ago

    If you are going to BC with hopes of affordability, you’re looking in the wrong province. BC stands for bring cash. Between taxes, fuel, housing costs and living costs, BC is one of, if not the most expensive province to live in, in Canada.

  • Gen Z 2 months ago

    The only jobs in Toronto are temp agency minimum wage, or 1-year contract jobs which pay less than the union. A job agency even called me for a 1-day contract job for half of what the public sector union pays!

    Of course, there is no future in Toronto for young people.

  • Jay Z 2 months ago

    There is no hope for most young people in Toronto. Most of my U of T friend has moved to another province, to the states or a different country all together. I am planning to move to a different province after 20+ year in Toronto. I tried, sorry.

  • Peter j 2 months ago

    And no so many uneducated emigrants, with completely different views on western leaving.
    Most people leaving Toronto and moving north, I can’t see anymore Caucasian people in many areas, it’s fact and do not ignore problem, we last our culture.
    Ontario is not same anymore.

  • Slackenyourjaw 2 months ago

    So they turned Ontario into a neoliberal crap hole, then left to do the same elsewhere. I say stay in Ontario and stop voting in woke fools.

  • Wizard 2 months ago

    They told us for years if you can’t afford to live here go somewhere else. Guess what? the millennials listened now you can blame us for the collapse of Ontario.

  • Ken M. 2 months ago

    Pick up the phone, pick up the phone, pick up the phone what are you waiting for? Jason Kenney is calling.

Comments are closed.