The pattern of migration between the provinces typically follows economic opportunity. Provinces, therefore, are able to
compete for migrants through economic policy (tax levels, favourable business climate) and
social policy (quality of life, urban amenities), although not all
can be influenced by provincial public policies alone (e.g., family ties, climate).
Looking at Canada as a whole, only British Columbia and Alberta emerge as strong recipients of
interprovincial migration. In absolute terms, British Columbia gained over 500,000 people
between 1972-1999 (roughly just under half the current population of Saskatchewan or
Manitoba) while Alberta gained over 275,000 residents. Net figures
can mask a great deal of population churn, however. For example,
Alberta has experienced migration spikes, gaining newcomers during
periods of prosperity and losing residents during economic
"bust" cycles (see right table).
As the tables below demonstrate, when western Canadians move they typically move to another western province. Saskatchewan and British Columbia migrants
generally end up in Alberta; Alberta
migrants in British Columbia; and Manitoba migrants favour Ontario,
British Columbia. While this intra-regional migration may suggest a
degree of cohesion within the West or be the result of regional
identification, a large number of migrants come from Ontario-for
all the western provinces except Saskatchewan, Ontario provides at
least one-quarter of all migrants.
Excerpts reprinted from Robert Roach and Loleen
Berdahl, State of the West: Western Canadian Demographic and
Economic Trends(Calgary: Canada West Foundation: 2001),
with permission from the Canada
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.