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B.C. losing more residents to interprovincial migration

Statistic Canada data shows out-migration is outpacing in-migration for more than a year
A recreational boat travels on the harbour as Canada Place and the downtown Vancouver skyline are seen from North Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, March 12, 2022. Statistics Canada released its latest data Dec. 19, 2023 on Canada’s population estimates for the third quarter of 2023, and B.C. is continuing to lose more residents to interprovincial migration than it’s gaining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

For the first time in a decade, B.C. has recorded five consecutive quarters of inter-provincial migration losses.

Statistics Canada released its latest data Tuesday (Dec. 19) on Canada’s population estimates for the third quarter of 2023, and B.C. is continuing to experience a net loss of residents to other provinces.

In the third quarter of the year, 17,186 people moved to other provinces from B.C. Comparatively, 12,552 people moved to B.C. from elsewhere in the country.

The second quarter of 2022 is the last time B.C.’s incoming migration outpaced outgoing migration. So far in 2023, the data shows 57,374 people have moved out of B.C., compared to 51,478 moving to B.C.

Alberta, however, has consistently seen more people moving into the province since the beginning of 2022, and Statistics Canada states that while its inter-provincial migration is coming from all provinces and territories, most of those gains are from B.C. and Ontario.

Beginning in 2022, the Alberta is Calling campaign launched, aiming to attract people from Toronto and Vancouver. It made the case for relocation: cheaper housing, good pay and shorter commutes. The Alberta is Calling website says that in Edmonton people can own four homes for the same price as one in Vancouver.

“Buy a house and have more money in the bank.”

READ MORE: As Alberta campaigns to attract workers, economists say the competition is healthy

BC United leader Kevin Falcon told Black Press Media he’s not at all surprised that B.C. is losing residents. He blames the NDP.

“We’re seeing it happen again where they’ve made British Columbia the most unaffordable province in the country with the highest tax rates in the country, the most expensive place to live in terms of housing and rent. Not surprisingly, people are voting with their feet and they’re moving to Alberta where you’ve got much lower taxes, much more affordable housing, a more dynamic economy.”

But B.C.’s Jobs and Economic Development Minister Brenda Bailey said in an emailed statement that despite people moving out of B.C. and to other places in Canada, the province’s net migration this year is 151,437 people.

As well, in the first three quarters of the year, 51,478 people have moved to B.C. from other provinces and territories. Broken down, 19,373 people have come from Alberta, 17,515 from Ontario and the remaining 14,590 from the other provinces and territories.

“Because B.C. and Alberta share a border, we have historically seen large flows of population between the two provinces.”

Bailey pointed to several industrial construction projects, such as Site C, LNG Canada and the Trans Mountain pipeline, that are underway in B.C. and attracting workers from across Canada.

“It isn’t unexpected that we see inter-provincial population movements occur as these mega projects enter new construction phases.”

– With files from The Canadian Press

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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