Migration: Interprovincial, 2008/2009
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This section of the migration chapter will examine patterns of interprovincial migration in Canada including overall net migration for each province and territory as well as migratory flows between provinces and territories. Data on interprovincial migration analysed in this chapter for the years 2007/2008 and 2008/2009, as well as historical data from 1971/1972,1 are based on administrative files, specifically, income tax files, which are considered final. A brief analysis of preliminary 2009/2010 data, derived from Canada Child Tax Benefit files, will conclude this section.
During the 2008/2009 period about 277,800 persons changed their province or territory of residence within Canada, down from 301,200 the previous year, and the lowest number of interprovincial migrants since 2003/2004 (Table 1). Migratory flows from one province or territory to another within Canada can change from year to year due to economic influences or other circumstances. Some provinces and territories have experienced stability in their migratory patterns in recent years, while other areas in the country have experienced shifts in the balance and either sources or destinations of their migratory exchanges.
Table 1 Net interprovincial migration for provinces and territories, 1971/1972 to 2008/2009
Overall, net interprovincial migration in the Atlantic provinces has improved recently. In Newfoundland and Labrador in 2008/2009, for example, there was positive net interprovincial migration for the first time in many years as 1,900 more people came to the province from elsewhere in Canada than left. This contributed, in large part, to the overall positive growth for this province in 2008/2009 (see Population Growth: Canada, provinces and territories). In contrast, throughout much of the preceding 30 years between 1976/1977 and 2007/2008 (with the exception of 1982/1983) net interprovincial migration for this province was negative. Between 1971/1972 and 2008/2009, about 123,400 more people left Newfoundland and Labrador for other provinces and territories than entered it.
Negative net interprovincial migration was observed for Nova Scotia during the years between 2003/2004 and 2008/2009, reaching -4,100 in 2006/2007 but with fewer net losses in the two most recent years (-1,800 in 2007/2008 and -800 in 2008/2009). Although net interprovincial migration to Prince Edward Island was primarily positive throughout the 1992/1993 to 2003/2004 period (with the exception of 1997/1998), the balance of interprovincial migration has been negative since 2004/2005 and it grew slightly larger from 2007/2008 (-300) to 2008/2009 (-500). Between 1991/1992 and 2008/2009 more people left New Brunswick than arrived but there have been fewer losses due to net interprovincial migration in the past several years. In 2008/2009 about 200 more migrants left the province than entered, an annual improvement since 2005/2006 (-3,500).
In Quebec, there was negative net interprovincial migration in 2008/2009 (-7,400) which has been the case since 1971/1972. The net loss, however, was much lower than in 2007/2008 (-11,700) and 2006/2007 (-12,900). Peak negative net migration occurred in Quebec in 1977/1978, a period of political instability in the province, when 46,400 more people left Quebec for elsewhere in Canada than entered. Since 1971/1972, 528,100 more people left the province of Quebec than entered it, the largest net loss of any province or territory resulting from interprovincial migration.
More people left Ontario for other regions of Canada in 2008/2009 than arrived (-15,600), a higher net loss than the previous year (-14,800) but lower than in 2006/2007 (-20,000). Ontario has not experienced positive net interprovincial migration since 2002/2003 (600). Since 1971/1972, peak net interprovincial migration to Ontario was in 1986/1987 when 42,600 more migrants arrived from other provinces and territories than left. Overall, about 41,000 people were added to the population of Ontario during the 1971/1972 to 2008/2009 period as a result of net interprovincial migration.
In Manitoba, net interprovincial migration remained negative in 2007/2008 (-3,700) and 2008/2009 (-3,100), similar to much of the past 40 years, although the net deficit has been declining since 2005/2006 (-7,900). In contrast, in Alberta, net interprovincial migration, while still positive, dropped sharply from 45,800 in 2005/2006 to 15,300 in 2007/2008 and fell further to 13,200 in 2008/2009. The cumulative impact of net interprovincial migration is also quite different for each of these provinces. Over the preceding nearly four decade history of these two provinces (1971/1972 to 2008/2009), about 190,700 more people left Manitoba for other provinces or territories than entered while Alberta added about 513,100 more people to the population of the province than left for elsewhere in Canada.
In 2008/2009 about 3,000 people were added to the population of Saskatchewan as a result of net interprovincial migration, contributing to strong growth for this province (see Population Growth: Canada, provinces and territories). The preceding year, 2007/2008, 4,200 more migrants arrived in the province from elsewhere in the country than left, the highest recorded net interprovincial migration for Saskatchewan since 1975/1976. The 2008/2009 period marked the third consecutive year of positive net interprovincial migration to Saskatchewan following more than 20 years of negative net out-migration (1984/1985 to 2005/2006). The highest net loss came in 1989/1990 when 19,400 more migrants left Saskatchewan for other provinces and territories than arrived. Between 1971/1972 and 2008/2009, over 196,300 more people left Saskatchewan than entered the province.
In British Columbia, 10,000 people were added to the population in 2008/2009 because of net interprovincial migration and 14,600 were added in 2007/2008. While still positive, net migration to British Columbia from across Canada continued a pattern of decline which began in 2006/2007 when there were 15,000 more migrants who entered the province than left. The history of net interprovincial migration to British Columbia over the period 1971/1972 to 2008/2009 has been largely positive, with a high in 1989/1990 of 41,400 more migrants arriving from elsewhere in Canada than leaving. During this period of almost 40 years, about 538,200 people were added to the population of British Columbia from net interprovincial migration, the largest net gain of any province or territory.
Given their relatively low population base, migratory movements into and out of the territories are generally lower than the provinces, which can result in more fluctuation from year to year. In the Northwest Territories, close to 600 more people left than arrived in 2008/2009 due to negative net interprovincial migration. This was a higher net loss than the previous year (-400) and in 2006/2007 (-200). Over 200 more people were added to the Yukon population from elsewhere in Canada in 2008/2009 than left, stable from 2007/2008. In Nunavut, net interprovincial migration was close to zero in 2008/2009, an improvement from a net loss of -300 in 2007/2008. Overall, during the 1971/1972 to 2008/2009 period, about 13,700 more people left the Northwest Territories than entered as a result of negative net migration while the Yukon experienced a negative net balance of -4,000 during the same period. During the 1991/1992 to 2008/2009 period that Nunavut has been a distinct territory, 2,100 more people left for other provinces and territories than arrived.
Interprovincial in-migrants and out-migrants
In any given year, each province and territory represents a point of origin for interprovincial migrants who move to another province or territory within Canada as well as a destination for those migrants who arrive from elsewhere in the country. Origin-destination matrices can be used to examine the specific patterns of migratory exchanges between provinces and territories across Canada. It cannot be determined with these data, however, whether migrants are entering a particular province or territory for the first time or whether they are migrants who have returned to their home province after a period of time spent elsewhere in Canada. As in past years, most of the recent interprovincial movement involves the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.
In 2008/2009, 10,300 people moved to Newfoundland and Labrador up from 9,800 people the previous year. The reversal in the overall migratory balance from negative to positive for this province can be attributed not only to the increase in in-migration but even more to the decline in out-migration over this same time period from 10,300 to 8,400. These migratory exchanges were most notably improved with the provinces of Alberta and Ontario. The largest out-migration from Newfoundland and Labrador in both 2007/2008 (4,900) and 2008/2009 (3,800) was in the direction of Alberta (Tables 2 and 3). About 3,500 people arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador from Alberta in 2007/2008 increasing to 3,800 the following year. Consequently, due to fewer out-migrants and more in-migrants in 2008/2009, the overall migratory balance between Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta changed from negative to close to zero between 2007/2008 and 2008/2009. During 2007/2008 and to an even greater extent in 2008/2009, Newfoundland and Labrador had a favourable migratory exchange with Ontario. In 2007/2008, 2,200 residents of Newfoundland and Labrador moved to Ontario decreasing to 1,900 people the following year, whereas 3,300 people arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador from Ontario increasing to 3,500 during the same time period.
Table 2 Annual number of interprovincial migrants, 2007/2008
Table 3 Annual number of interprovincial migrants, 2008/2009
A greater migration deficit for Prince Edward Island in 2008/2009 compared to the previous year was the result of fewer in-migrants (2,500 down from 2,800) but a stable flow of out-migrants (3,100 in each year). Due to the small population in Prince Edward Island, migratory exchanges with other provinces and territories were relatively modest. The largest balance of loss in 2007/2008 was to Alberta resulting from 900 Prince Edward Islanders leaving and 600 people arriving from the western province. In 2008/2009, fewer Prince Edward Island residents left for Alberta (700) while migratory in-flows to Prince Edward Island from Alberta remained the same (600).
The migratory balance for Nova Scotia improved from 2007/2008 to 2008/2009. In 2008/2009 there were slightly fewer in-migrants (15,500) compared to 2007/2008 (16,000) but during this same time period the number of out-migrants also dropped (from 17,800 to 16,200). Nova Scotia had its largest migratory exchange with Alberta and although the flows remained in Alberta's favour there was less out-migration to Alberta in 2008/2009 (4,500) compared to 2007/2008 (5,100). In-migration to Nova Scotia from the western province remained fairly stable over the two years (3,600 in 2007/2008 and 3,400 in 2008/2009). The balance of Nova Scotia's exchange with Ontario changed from negative in 2007/2008 to positive in 2008/2009 given that close to 5,500 people left Nova Scotia for Ontario in 2007/2008 falling to 4,900 in 2008/2009 while 5,200 people arrived in Nova Scotia from the most populous province in each year.
Fewer New Brunswick residents left the province in 2008/2009 (11,500) than the previous year (12,600) and there were also fewer arrivals during the same period (dropping from 11,700 to 11,300). As was the case with the other Atlantic provinces, New Brunswick experienced a reduced deficit with Alberta as close to 3,600 people left in 2007/2008 decreasing to 3,000 in 2008/2009 while the number of in-migrants from Alberta increased slightly from 2,400 to 2,500 during the same years.
Although more people left Quebec than arrived in both 2007/2008 and 2008/2009, the deficit was lower in 2008/2009 largely due to reduced out-flows of migrants. A similar number of migrants arrived in Quebec from other provinces and territories in both 2007/2008 (20,100) and 2008/2009 (20,300) whereas out-migration fell from 31,800 to 27,700. Quebec's migratory exchanges were primarily in the direction of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, however, migratory balances generally improved over this period resulting in fewer losses for Quebec. Out-migration from Quebec to Ontario fell from 17,200 in 2007/2008 to 15,600 in 2008/2009 while in-migration from Ontario also decreased slightly (from 12,200 to 11,900). In the case of Quebec's migratory exchange with Alberta, the number of Quebec residents leaving for Alberta dropped from 7,500 in 2007/2008 to 5,600 in 2008/2009, combined with an increase in the flow of in-migrants from Alberta from 2,100 to 2,700. Migratory exchanges between Quebec and British Columbia changed little from 2007/2008 to 2008/2009.
The migratory balances between Ontario and many other provinces were less favourable for Ontario in 2008/2009 compared to the previous year. In 2007/2008 there were 61,700 in-migrants to Ontario falling to 57,500 in 2008/2009 while there were 76,500 and 73,100 out-migrants during the same period. Most of the migratory flows coming to, or leaving from, Ontario were with the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec. The balance of interprovincial migration with Alberta, while still negative, resulted in fewer losses. This was due to lower out-migration from Ontario to Alberta (28,000 in 2007/2008 to 24,800 in 2008/2009) and a marginal reduction in the number of in-migrants (from 13,500 to 13,100). The number of persons who left Ontario for British Columbia decreased from 16,600 in 2007/2008 to 15,600 people in 2008/2009 as did the number of in-migrants from British Columbia (12,700 and 11,500, respectively). Ontario continued to gain in its exchanges with Quebec but to a lesser extent in 2008/2009 compared to the previous year.
For Manitoba, the net deficit of migration was improved in 2008/2009 compared to one year earlier. This was because the drop in in-migration from 12,700 in 2007/2008 to 11,900 in 2008/2009 was offset by a decreased out-flow of migrants to other destinations in Canada from 16,400 to 15,000. Most of the migratory exchanges for Manitoba during the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 period were in the direction of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan. In-migration to Manitoba from British Columbia was similar in both 2008/2009 (1,800) and 2007/2008 (1,900) while out-migration fell marginally (from 3,200 to 2,900). Negative net migration to Alberta dropped between these two years as out-migration from Manitoba to Alberta decreased from 5,400 in 2007/2008 to 4,500 in 2008/2009 although in-migration also fell from 4,100 to 3,500. Interprovincial migration from Manitoba to Ontario remained fairly stable in both 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 as out-migration changed little from 2007/2008 (4,300) to 2008/2009 (4,200) and in-migration remained constant at 3,600 in-migrants in each year. Out-migration from Manitoba to Saskatchewan was about the same in 2007/2008 (2,000) as the following year (1,900) while in-migration fell from 1,900 to 1,600, respectively, increasing the overall exchange slightly in favour of Saskatchewan.
The overall migratory exchange for Saskatchewan continued to favour this province in 2008/2009 but not as much as in the previous year. In 2007/2008 there were 20,200 people who came to Saskatchewan falling to 18,100 in 2008/2009. At the same time, the flow of out-migrants from Saskatchewan fell from 16,000 to 15,100. During the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 periods, more migrants came to Saskatchewan from Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba than left for these provinces. Out-migration in the direction of Alberta declined from 8,500 in 2007/2008 to 7,800 in 2008/2009 but there were also fewer in-migrants from Alberta (11,200 and 8,700, respectively). The flow of migrants from Saskatchewan to Ontario remained stable at 1,800 in both 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 while the number of migrants moving in the other direction increased from 2,700 to 3,700 during this time period. Out-migration from Saskatchewan to Manitoba declined from 1,900 in 2007/2008 to 1,600 in 2008/2009 while the flow of in-migrants was largely unchanged (2,000 and 1,900, respectively).
While still positive for Alberta, the overall migratory exchange was less beneficial for this province in 2008/2009 than in the previous year. There were fewer Albertans leaving the province (62,100 in 2008/2009 down from 69,100 in 2007/2008) as well as fewer in-migrants in 2008/2009 (75,200) compared to 2007/2008 (84,400). Most positive net migration for Alberta was from Ontario and Quebec, although the flow of in-migrants from Ontario slowed from 28,000 in 2007/2008 to 24,800 in 2008/2009. Out-migration in the direction of Ontario decreased slightly during the same years from 13,500 to 13,100. There were net migratory gains from Manitoba in both 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 with the flow of out-migrants slowing from 4,100 to 3,500 as did the number of in-migrants (from 5,400 to 4,500). Net losses from Alberta to Saskatchewan decreased during the period resulting from a decline in the number of out-migrants going to Saskatchewan (11,200 in 2007/2008 and 8,700 in 2008/2009) despite receiving fewer in-migrants in 2008/2009 (7,800) than in 2007/2008 (8,500). More people left Alberta for British Columbia (27,100 in 2007/2008 and 23,000 in 2008/2009) than arrived (19,300 in 2007/2008 and 19,100 in 2008/2009) in each of the years.
Fewer people moved to British Columbia in 2008/2009 (51,100) compared to one year earlier (57,400) and not as many people left the province (41,100 and 42,800, respectively). In British Columbia, the balance of interprovincial migration was primarily positive with the other provinces and territories from 2007/2008 to 2008/2009, with the largest exchanges between British Columbia and Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec. The largest net gain over this two year period was with Alberta although it was nearly halved in 2008/2009 compared to the previous year. The number of out-migrants from British Columbia to Alberta was largely unchanged in 2007/2008 (19,300) and 2008/2009 (19,100) but the number of people entering British Columbia from Alberta was much lower during this time period (dropping from 27,100 to 23,000). Out-migration from British Columbia in the direction of Ontario fell slightly from 12,700 in 2007/2008 to 11,500 in 2008/2009 as did the flow of migrants moving to the province from Ontario (16,600 to 15,600). Out-migration from British Columbia to Manitoba changed little over the two year period (1,900 in 2007/2008 and 1,800 in 2008/2009) as did in-migration (3,200 in 2007/2008 and 2,900 in 2008/2009). The number of British Columbia residents moving to Quebec remained stable during the two years (2,200) while the number of in-migrants fell negligibly from 3,200 to 3,000.
Due to their smaller populations, migratory exchanges with other provinces and territories were relatively low for the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut during the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 period. Yukon's largest flows were with British Columbia with about 500 in-migrants and 500 out-migrants in each year, resulting in a marginal net loss in 2007/2008 (-100) and close to zero net-migration in 2008/2009. Exchanges between the Yukon and Ontario involved 300 people or less in either direction and produced a net balance of about 100 people in each year. The Northwest Territories experienced the largest flows with Alberta with about 900 out-migrants to this province in both 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 and in-migrants of 600 and 500, respectively, which produced net losses to Alberta. Nunavut had negligible migratory exchanges with other provinces and territories in 2007/2008 and 2008/2009. In both 2007/2008 and 2008/2009, about 200 people entered Nunavut from Ontario while 300 people left for this province.
A first look at 2009/2010 trends
The 2009/2010 data on interprovincial migration, based on the Canada Child Tax Benefit files, are preliminary. This means that the counts of the migratory in-flows and out-flows, as well as net migration, for each particular province or territory could change once the final data become available. Consequently, the 2009/2010 data are useful for identifying trends but caution should be used when interpreting slight fluctuations from the previous years as the final data are likely to be adjusted downward (given that the preliminary data captures any intermediate moves during the year).
For the 2009/2010 period, the preliminary estimate indicates that 330,400 people changed residence within the country. In the Atlantic provinces in 2009/2010, more people entered than left the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador (1,300), New Brunswick (700) and Nova Scotia (200) as a result of net interprovincial migration. In Prince Edward Island, slightly more migrants left for other provinces and territories in 2009/2010 than arrived (-900).
In Quebec, there was negative net interprovincial migration (-3,300) in 2009/2010 just as there had been since 1971/1972, but an improvement from the previous five years. Although more people left Ontario for other regions of Canada in 2009/2010 than arrived (-7,300), the loss was less than half that of 2008/2009 (-15,600).
Both Manitoba and Alberta experienced similar levels of negative net interprovincial migration in 2009/2010 with 2,200 more migrants leaving each province than entering but the histories of net interprovincial migration are very different in each province. In Manitoba, net interprovincial migration remained negative in 2009/2010, similar to much of the past 40 years. In contrast, net interprovincial migration was negative in Alberta in 2009/2010 for the first time since 1994/1995. Among the other western provinces net interprovincial migration is estimated to have added 3,900 people to the population of Saskatchewan in 2009/2010 and 9,400 people to the population of British Columbia.
Although the counts are low and final data could change the directionality of the net interprovincial migration for the territories, preliminary estimates show positive net interprovincial migration for the Yukon (300) and Nunavut (400) and negative for the Northwest Territories (-500).
- 1971/1972 is the beginning of the period covered by the current record-keeping system. It is frequently used in this chapter as the initial date for analysis of historical trends.
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