Chapter 4. Interprovincial migration

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Internal migration is one of the demographic factors that affect the evolution of linguistic groups in Canada. Determining how French-speaking immigrants migrate within Canada serves to shed light on their demographic dynamics. In Canada, an examination of the migratory movements of Francophone immigrants outside Quebec has two components. The first consists of the movements of such immigrants toward Quebec; the other consists of movements in the other direction, from Quebec to the rest of Canada. Do these exchanges balance out, or do they instead create demographic imbalances? That is the main question that we raise here.

Interprovincial migration is measured on the basis of answers to the question asked in censuses on the place of residence five years earlier. The census, then, captures individuals' migratory movements over a period of five years preceding the census.1

Interprovincial migration of French-speaking immigrants living outside Quebec

The interprovincial migration of French-speaking immigrants living outside Quebec differs from that of other immigrants, but it is similar to that of Canadian-born Francophones. The general bell shape of the curve of interprovincial migration rates by age group is typical of all the linguistic groups, peaking with 25 to 29 year-olds, although the curves for Francophones (both Canadian-born and immigrants) are higher, for all age groups (chart 4.1a). Thus, at its peak in the 25 to 29 age range, the migration rate for French-speaking immigrants reaches 140 per thousand, and it is 165 per thousand in the case of Francophones born in Canada. Among Canadian-born non-Francophones, the migration rate for 25 to 29 year-olds is half as high (87 per thousand), while non-Francophone immigrants register the lowest rate at 45 per thousand. Whereas the rates for French-speaking immigrants and Canadian-born Francophones are similar from one age group to another (their curves cross at two points, 15 to 19 and 30 to 34 years), the rate for non-Francophone immigrants is much lower than that for non-Francophone native-born Canadians in the adult ages, showing a substantial difference between ages 20 and 34.

Chart 4.1a Interprovincial migration rate (per thousand) of the immigrant and non immigrant population according to the first official language spoken after redistribution of the French-English category by age group, Canada less Quebec

A comparison of age-specific rates indicates that there is also a sizable difference between the intensity of the interprovincial migration of French FOLS immigrants and that of French-English first official language spoken (FOLS) immigrants. The age-specific rates of the latter group are more like those of non-Francophone immigrants and native-born Canadians, except among 30 to 34 year-olds, where the rate reaches a peak (135 per thousand) and equals that of French-speaking immigrants (chart 4.1b).

Chart 4.1b Interprovincial migration rate (per thousand) of the immigrant and non immigrant population according to the first official language spoken after redistribution of the French-English category by age group, Canada less Quebec

The results in each census since 1991 are similar. For each five-year migration period observed, the order of the groups is the same, both after and before redistribution of the French-English category. In the first case, Francophone immigrants have the highest interprovincial migration rate, followed by Canadian-born Francophones (chart 4.2a). The rates of these two groups are very close together, especially between 1996 and 2001. Well below these trends are the internal migration rates of non-Francophones, both immigrant and Canadian-born, whose migration rates are nearly two times lower. The migration rate fell between 1991 and 2006 for non-Francophone immigrants and native-born Canadians, going from 34 to 24 per thousand for the former group and from 39 to 33 per thousand for the latter. The change over time in this migration for the French-speaking population (including both Canadian-born and immigrants) was marked by a sizable decrease between the 1991 and 1996 censuses, followed by a slight increase by 2006. Thus, for Francophone immigrants, the migration rate, which was 84 per thousand in 1991, fell to 60 per thousand five years later, then edged up to 66 per thousand in 2006.

Chart 4.2a Total interprovincial migration rate (per thousand, standardised by age group) of the population according to immigrant status and first official language spoken after redistribution of the French-English category, Canada less Quebec

This trend is also seen in the interprovincial migration patterns of French FOLS and French-English FOLS immigrants between 1991 and 2006 (chart 4.2b). The gap between these two groups remained sizable throughout this period, with the migration rates of the first group sometimes doubling that of the second group (notably in 1996 and 2001).

Chart 4.2b Total interprovincial migration rate (per thousand, standardised by age group) of the population according to immigrant status and first official language spoken before redistribution of the French-English category, Canada less Quebec

For the populations of the provinces and territories excluding Quebec, the magnitude of interprovincial migration is different for Francophones and non-Francophones. The same applies to the destinations chosen by migrants in these two groups. French-speaking persons (after redistribution of the French-English category), whether they be Canadian-born or immigrants, mainly migrate to Quebec, whereas non-Francophones opt for much more diverse destinations. Among interprovincial Francophone migrants in the period 2001 to 2006 (captured in the 2006 Census), 62% of Canadian-born and 68% of immigrants went to Quebec (table 4.1). Ontario and Alberta, which are similarly attractive as provinces of destination, attracted 9% or 10% of French-speaking interprovincial migrants. Among non-Francophones (Canadian-born and immigrants), three provinces compete for the majority of immigrants: British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Together, these three provinces received 68% of Canadian-born and 78% of immigrant non-Francophones who migrated between provinces between 2001 and 2006. By comparison, these same three provinces received 25% of French-speaking migrants living outside Quebec.

Table 4.1 Population of interprovincial migrants (2001 to 2006) according to the first official language spoken after redistribution of the French-English category according to region of destination, migrants from Canada ouside Quebec

This characteristic of the interprovincial migration of persons living outside Quebec in 2001, which distinguishes Francophones from the rest of the population, is observed in all censuses between 1991 and 2006. Thus, Quebec's share as a destination for French-speaking interprovincial migrants, both Canadian-born and immigrant, remained above 54%, peaking in the 2006 Census (chart 4.3). Conversely, for other interprovincial migrants, Quebec's share remained below 10% in the case of immigrants and below 5% in the case of non-Francophone native-born Canadians during the study period.

Chart 4.3 Percentage of interprovincial migrants who settled in Quebec, immigrant and non immigrant population according to the first official language spoken after redistribution of the French-English category, migrants from outside Quebec

Interprovincial migration to Quebec and net migration

Differences in migratory behaviours between French-speaking individuals and the rest of the population of Canada outside Quebec also apply to Quebec, except that the behaviours in this case are reversed. Thus, rates of interprovincial migration from Quebec, observed in each census from 1991 to 2006, are much higher for non-Francophones, both Canadian-born and immigrant, than for Francophones, both Canadian-born and immigrant (chart 4.4). The picture is the opposite of what was seen in Canada outside Quebec, and here the differences between the two groups are even greater.

Chart 4.4 Total interprovincial migration rate (standardised by age group) of the population of selected groups defined according to first official language spoken and immigrant status (after redistribution of the French-English category), rate for migration from outside Quebec to rest of Canada

Migratory exchanges between Quebec and the rest of Canada are generally favourable to the latter (table 4.2). Between 1991 and 2006, net five-year migration for four of the five groups defined according to first official language spoken (FOLS) and immigrant status was positive for Canada excluding Quebec, except as regards Canadian-born Francophones, whose interprovincial migration favoured Quebec in three periods (1986 to 1991, 1991 to 1996 and 2001 to 2006). For Canadian-born non-Francophones, net migration was between 20,000 and just under 30,000 during the first three five-year periods but declined to slightly more than 8,000 between 2001 and 2006. Non-Francophone immigrants exhibit a similar pattern: between 10,000 and 16,000 such immigrants left Quebec to settle elsewhere in Canada in each period between 1991 and 2001, but this number then declined to just under 8,000 between 2001 and 2006, bringing it to the same level as for non-Francophone native-born Canadians.

Table 4.2a Net migration between Quebec and the rest of Canada of the population defined according to immigrant status and first official language spoken after redistribution of the French-English category

Table 4.2b Net migration between Quebec and the rest of Canada of the population defined according to immigrant status and first official language spoken after redistribution of the French-English category

For French-speaking immigrants too, net migration is in favour of the rest of Canada, but to a lesser extent. Between 1996 and 2001, it peaked at 4,055. Conversely, migration of Canadian-born Francophones favoured Quebec. Basically, net migration of the French-speaking population as a whole exhibited major fluctuations, reflecting those observed for both two components of that population, Canadian-born persons and immigrants.

Overall, interprovincial migration outside Quebec played a fairly modest role in the relative change over time in the non-Francophone population, mainly because that population is sizable. Despite lower absolute numbers, net migration has greater demographic effects on French-speaking populations, which are relatively small in the rest of Canada. Among immigrants in particular, net migration per 1,000 immigrants in Canada outside Quebec was 17.8‰ between 2001 and 2006, after reaching higher levels in earlier censuses, e.g., 48 and 60 per thousand during the periods 1991 to 1996 and 1996 to 2001 respectively (table 4.2).

Origins of Francophone immigrants who migrated between provinces

Francophone immigrants who lived outside Quebec in 2006 and had migrated between provinces between 2001 and 2006 mostly came from five large Canadian cities (census metropolitan areas), in particular Montréal. Overall, at least 30% of migrating Francophone immigrants came from the Montréal census metropolitan area, although there were major variations based on region of residence: 64.5% for Ontario, 49% for British Columbia but 33% for the region consisting of the four Atlantic provinces (table 4.3). In the latter region, the city of Québec contributed nearly 20% of such migrants. The other main cities that migrants left are Ottawa-Gatineau and Toronto. Only the region formed by the two Prairie provinces (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) attracted a relatively large percentage of such migrants (i.e., migrating Francophone immigrants) from the Vancouver CMA. The rest of Canada (including the province of Quebec outside the cities of Montréal and Québec) contributed less than one third of such migrants, and in Ontario less than 15%, with Montréal being that province's main place of origin of such interprovincial migrants between 2001 and 2006.

Table 4.3 Region of residence in 2006 of immigrants whose first official language spoken is French after redistribution of the French-English category and who did an interprovincial migration between 2001 and 2006, according to place of origin

The patterns for six cities of destination for migrants are similar (table 4.4). Montréal is still the main pool for Francophone immigrant migrants in Canada outside Quebec. In Toronto, for example, 77% of such interprovincial migrants come from the Quebec metropolis. Montréal is also the main supplier for three other cities: Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver, at 54%, 55% et 59% respectively. The Toronto CMA also makes a considerable contribution to the interprovincial migration of Francophone immigrants. Thus, of those who chose Moncton, Calgary and Vancouver, respectively 23%, 19% and 15% came from Toronto. Considerable mobility is also observed between Ottawa and Gatineau. One-quarter of Francophone immigrant migrants who settled in Ottawa had come from Gatineau, on the other side of the Ottawa River.

Table 4.4 Region of residence in 2006 of immigrants whose first official language spoken is French after redistribution of the French-English category and who did an interprovincial migration between 2001 and 2006, according to place of origin

In summary, Francophones and non-Francophones living in Canada outside Quebec exhibit quite different interprovincial migration patterns. Whereas Francophones tend to settle in Quebec when they migrate within Canada, non-Francophones tend instead to choose one of the other nine provinces, especially Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. In Quebec, exactly the opposite patterns are observed: Quebec Francophones, whether they be native-born or immigrants, migrate relatively little to other provinces, while a much higher proportion of non-Francophones leave the province. Overall, the movement of Francophone immigrants from elsewhere in Canada to Quebec fails to offset the opposite flow from Quebec to the rest of Canada, and the net interprovincial migration of Francophone immigrants definitely favours Canada outside Quebec. In relative terms, the net migration of Francophone immigrants is greater than that of both Canadian-born Francophones and non-Francophone immigrants.


Note

  1. The census also includes a question on place of residence one year earlier. However, that information is not used in this report because of the small size of the counts that it would yield of interprovincial migrants who are French FOLS immigrants.
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