Ontario Is Hemorrhaging Residents To Other Parts of Canada Like No Other Province

Ontario is out, and the coasts are in according to the latest population growth data. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) quarterly population estimates were released for Q1 2021. Interprovincial migration data shows Ontario lost more Canadians than it could attract. Affordable provinces such as Quebec and Nova Scotia were able to show a net gain. BC managed to take the top spot when it came to attracting Canadians though.

Ontario Lost More Canadians Than It Could Attract

The most populated province is seeing a lot more people leave for other parts of Canada than arrive. The inflow of people from other provinces came in at 15,997 for Q1 2021. It was met with an outflow of 21,626 people leaving for other provinces. That means fewer people were attracted to the province than left.

Net-interprovincial migration was 5,629 more people leaving for other provinces than arriving. It was Ontario’s largest net loss since Q2 2014. Outside of that quarter, one needs to go back to pre-Great Recession days to see those kinds of numbers. High home prices are likely a very big factor here.

Canadian Net-Interprovincial Migration

The net flow of Canadians arriving from another province, compared to the number leaving for other provinces in Q1 2021.
Source: Stat Can; Better Dwelling.

BC Attracted A Lot More Canadians Than It Lost

High home prices are a factor, but not the only one it would appear, with pricey BC receiving the biggest inflow. The province saw an interprovincial inflow of 18,051 people for Q1 2021. It was met with an interprovincial outflow of 9,038 people. The net flow works out to the province adding 9,013 more people than it lost. This is the biggest gain from other provinces since Q2 2016. It was the biggest winner in the country.

Quebec Managed To Attract More People Than It

Quebec made decent gains attracting Canadians from other parts of the country. The inflow of interprovincial migration reached 7,261 people for Q1 2021. The outflow of interprovincial migration was 5,897 people in the same quarter. This works out to a net flow of 1,364 more people than Quebec lost to other provinces. It was the third-highest net flow in the country. Not a mind-blowing number, but it’s better to attract more people than it is to lose them.

Canadians Are Flocking To Nova Scotia

One of the more interesting data points is Nova Scotia managing to gain much more people than left. The inflow of interprovincial migration was 4,700 people for Q1 2021. It was met with an outflow of just 2,830 people. The net-interprovincial migration of 1,870 people is the second largest in the country.

Anecdotally, Nova Scotia Realtors had been saying more Ontario residents are arriving. Meanwhile, more Ontario Realtors have been saying sellers are leaving for Nova Scotia. Selling pricey Ontario to move to more affordable Nova Scotia is one way to arbitrage. A small data point to confirm it may be more than just anecdotes.

Ontario’s pricey real estate is likely a big factor in losing residents to the rest of Canada. The province recently saw a surge in home prices almost everywhere. Not just big cities are now expensive, but even small ones are closing the gap with Toronto. Economists say this will lower the incentive to move to small cities soon. But what about people in small cities? They have few options for affordability, other than looking out of province.

Picking up and moving is also one of the few ways someone can cash in on their real estate gains. Selling and buying a more expensive home, or downgrading in size isn’t all that appealing. Moving to a new province? That might be. If your home makes more than you do, it’s easy to see why some people would try to capture some of that wealth.

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    Let the border open and then wait, watch and see how many inhabitants Ontario loose in each quarter.

    Some might be hopeful about 1 million new immigrants.. buddy, forget about them.. they ain’t coming in Ontario.

  • Jim 3 years ago

    Ontarians who have money and retirement funds are moving to Nova Scotia. The Boomers who are laughing all the way to the BNS.
    The rest of the GTA inhabitants are either living paycheck to paycheck in an overpriced home or rented slumlord shoebox.

  • Andrew 3 years ago

    Housing in Ontario has become financialized and commodified to the point of almost complete inaccessibility. Our healthcare and long term care has been gradually defunded, and with a great population and demand for social infrastructure, we feel the negative fallout of neoliberal policies quite intensely in 2021’s Ontario. It doesn’t shock me to hear that people are seeing greener grass on the other side, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the trend continues post-COVID.

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