Canadians Fleeing Ontario Is Accelerating, Alberta Becomes Top Destination

Canadians are re-evaluating their housing situation, and it’s sending many to new provinces. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data shows a significant interprovincial migration. This is the flow of Canadians looking to improve their quality of life by moving to a new province. Since Ontario’s home prices have begun to surge, the province has been on the losing end of this trend.

Affordable provinces are in, and expensive provinces are out for Canadian residents. We looked at Q1 2022 interprovincial migration data and found a big shift in moving patterns. Ontario, once considered Canada’s opportunity hub, is now seeing people leave in droves. Alberta and Nova Scotia, formerly known for losses, are now the top destinations for Canadians looking for a change.

Interprovincial migration is when a resident moves to a new province. Long-term residents have insights on a province that can’t easily be quantified. Sure, maybe unemployment is low and wages are high, but it might not add up to a better quality of life. They have practical, on-the-ground experience with a region and how attractive it can be. If a lot more people leave than arrive, the province might be a poor value proposition.

Provinces with a positive flow aren’t just attracting people, but also retaining them. Keeping locals satisfied while poaching people from other regions is no easy task. Policymakers can learn what works and what doesn’t to continue to compete for people. 

Now let’s look at the data:

First, let’s start with the provinces doing things right. Alberta saw the largest net inflow, gaining 5,351 people in Q1 2022. This completely reverses the negative movements seen last year in the quarter. The next two to follow are BC with a net gain of 3,051 people (-67% compared to Q1 2021), and Nova Scotia with 2,419 (-10%) people.

All three of these provinces saw large net gains for interprovincial migrants. However, it’s worth noticing that Alberta is the only one of the three to see an acceleration for the trend. The other two provinces have made big gains, but they’re slowing.

The biggest loser might surprise anyone who’s not from the province — Ontario. The province saw a net outflow of 11,566 people in Q1 2022, nearly double (+96%) last year’s net loss. It was followed by Manitoba with an outflow of 2,229 (-7%) people, and Saskatchewan with 1,358 (-28%) people.

Ontario is the only of the three provinces to see losses accelerate in size. The other two provinces are seeing smaller outflows from last year. Policymakers like to emphasize interprovincial losses don’t mean a shrinking population. You can attract more immigrants to make up for the losses, and then some. Immigrants tend to move to the Big Three hubs in Canada — Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.

It’s a good deal for the region, but if it fails to live up to the hype it’s not great for the immigrant. This often results in regret, and in a best-case scenario they figure out where locals are moving. At a certain point, word gets out and the previous hubs can be replaced as people move directly to the new region. The former hub then must fight an uphill battle to regain its reputation.


Bosley Real Estate Ltd. is a full-service boutique brokerage operating in Toronto, Muskoka, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Hope, and Cambridge, Ontario since 1928. We have three centrally located offices in Toronto and over 250 sales representatives selling and leasing homes and condominiums in all the vibrant communities we work in. Our brand is well recognized internationally thanks to our unique affiliation with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. Our sales teams meet weekly to discuss market conditions, trending topics, and anecdotes that more accurately reflect the true temperature of the real estate market.

Do you have any questions about this week's market update? Curious about the current state of the real estate market? Give me a call at 416-219-6662 or fill out the form below and let's chat!
Brian C. Mayer Sales Representative