Ontario Sees Biggest Outflow of Residents Since 2015, While BC and Quebec See Inflows

The pandemic didn’t slow down Canadians looking for a new province in the beginning of this year. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data shows interprovincial migration is up in Q1 2020. Ontario was one of the biggest losers, seeing more Canadians leave than arrive in the quarter. BC and Quebec continued to attract more Canadians from other provinces – at the highest levels in years.

Interprovincial Migration

Interprovincial migration is the movement of residents from a province or territory, to another. Net interprovincial migration is the difference between those arriving, and those leaving. When net-interprovincial migration is positive, more people arrive than leave. When net-interprovincial migration is negative, more people are leaving than arriving.

Now, a province doesn’t need net-provincial migration to be positive for growth. A population can grow with higher births than deaths, and/or immigration. If a consistent outflow of residents are seen, the issues should be examined a little closer. These same issues could result in slowing immigration as well. It’s worth tracking this number to see how well retention is going, as a proxy of local prosperity.

Ontario’s Net-Interprovincial Migration Has Been Trending Lower

Ontario just had its first quarterly outflow in half a decade. Net-interprovincial migration fell to -2,507 people in Q1 2020, down from 931 people last year. The rolling 12-month sum of net-interprovincial migration is now just 1,322, the lowest since its negative drop in 2015. This also doesn’t appear to be a pandemic driven event either, This trend appears to have begun last year.

Ontario Net-Interprovincial Migration

A 12-month rolling sum of Ontario’s net-interprovincial migration of residents.

Source: Stat Can, Better Dwelling.

BC Sees Net-Interprovincial Migration Rise

On the flip side of the market is British Columbia, which has been seeing growth accelerate. Net-interprovincial migration reached 3,247 people in Q1 2020, up from 2,024 people last year. The 12-month rolling sum of net-interprovincial migration hit 10,774, the highest number since 2018. Growth has seen a mild acceleration, but it’s still trending lower these days.

BC Net-Interprovincial Migration

A 12-month rolling sum of Ontario’s net-interprovincial migration of residents.

Source: Stat Can, Better Dwelling.

Quebec Sees Biggest Gain of Residents From Other Provinces In Half A Century

Quebec is seeing the highest level of interprovincial migration in over half a century – although it’s not a huge number. Net-interprovincial migration reached 412 people in Q1 2020, up from -47 last year. The 12-month rolling sum of net-interprovincial migration reached 513 people, which may not sound like much. However, it’s the highest number since Q1 1963 – over 50 years ago. Positive growth may not be a trend, but smaller outflows might be.

Quebec Net-Interprovincial Migration

A 12-month rolling sum of Ontario’s net-interprovincial migration of residents.

Source: Stat Can, Better Dwelling.

Despite the pandemic, interprovincial migration was actually accelerating across the country. Despite seeing decent population growth, Ontario is seeing more and more people leave the province. BC and Quebec, are likely the recipients of at least some of that outflow.

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  • Mitch 4 years ago

    Ontario: it’s expensive, and the weather sucks. But if you live here, you can make the same as in other provinces!

    If I didn’t already own, I would consider other places.

  • James McCoy 4 years ago

    I’m assuming the BC cluster was during the accelerated immigration trend during Jan and Feb as well. Because right now there’s tons of empty units, and rents are falling.

  • Greg S 4 years ago

    Noticed a few moving trucks in my building at the end of last months, but no inward bound ones.

    Told my landlord I wanted a rent reduction, and they offered $100 off the bat. Emailed them with some comps, to show I could move into a similar place for $300 less, and got a $300 reduction.

    This is really a once in a lifetime situation for renters in Toronto.

    • Jason Chau 4 years ago

      Don’t forget rents over the past two years are marginal rents, not what everyone’s paying. If you paid market for a one bedroom last year, you paid more than 30% more than the average person remaining in their purpose built.

    • Gabriele Di Bernardo 4 years ago

      Not a once in a lifetime. This happens every time there is a recession. This time however will be particularly bad. Toronto (the GTA) is dealing with a 1-2 punch. Home prices and rentals were already in bubble territory and had been for a long time as cost of living had exceeded wages. Then the virus came along and shut down everything for 3 months. On the other side a lot of unemployment will be left and bankruptcies will rise. People who bought investment properties are in trouble as there wont be people to fill the oversupply of apartments/condos/homes that were built.

      • SH 4 years ago

        And STILL being built. An estimated 20,000 new units will be in occupancy in Toronto this year.

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