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Interprovincial Migration

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 interprovincial migration can be influenced by provincial public policies alone (e.g., family ties, climate).Average new migration

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, Alberta and 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 West Foundation.

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