Even after the pandemic and a return to work, out-migration to other provinces is soaring as Ontario loses its appeal

Ontario’s workers, it appears, are looking to greener pastures. According to a report by Indeed, “In the second half of 2022, 6.1 per cent of clicks on Canadian job postings by Ontario-based job seekers were for positions in other provinces.”

And many of them are actually going through with it ― in the first three quarters, Ontarians leaving for other provinces was up 83 per cent compared to pre-Covid levels.

Where are they going? Alberta recorded the largest net inflow since the end of the (last) oil boom ― at least partly the result of an aggressive recruitment campaign aimed at urban Torontonians. Nova Scotia was a net winner as well, with sharp population increases noted at the end of 2022.

Who is leaving has changed, too. No longer is it people seeking a payday in the oil fields. Rather, it’s remote and white-collar workers looking for new employment centres, and finding them in places like Calgary, Halifax and British Columbia.

Ivey Business School’s Mike Moffatt suggested this might not bode well for Ontario, which is losing young workers and young families because of affordability challenges. “Four or five years ago, you could move to a Kitchener-Waterloo or a Woodstock and it was still relatively affordable,” he told the Globe and Mail. “But now those places have gone up considerably, as well.”

Ontario’s losses are everyone else’s gains (does a more quintessentially Canadian attitude exist?). “With fully remote work likely to represent a significant share of certain jobs in the years ahead, more workers will live in places far from the locations where jobs are posted than in years past,” said Indeed’s Brendon Bernard. “This will expand both the number of job openings available to white-collar jobseekers across Canada, while also increasing the candidate pool for employers looking to fill these positions.”

Content written by Kieran Delamont for Worklife, a partnership between Ahria Consulting and London Inc. To view this content in newsletter form, click here.