Workers on the move

Canadians are on the move and heading West in massive numbers in the quest for high-paying jobs and low taxes, a Bank of Montreal report suggests.

OTTAWA — Canadians are on the move and heading West in massive numbers in the quest for high-paying jobs and low taxes, a Bank of Montreal report suggests.

The bank says in a new analysis that inter-provincial migration hit the highest level in almost a quarter of century in the past year, with the population flow to oil-rich Alberta surging to more than 50,000 people during the 12-month span ending June 30, the highest on record.

The data shows that every region is losing people in the competition between provinces, except Alberta and Saskatchewan.

BMO economist Robert Kavcic said inter-provincial migration was well established in the early 2000s as Alberta emerged as the country’s growth engine, but stalled somewhat during the 2008-09 recession.

“Now we’re at the part of the cycle where Alberta (is growing strong again), the unemployment rate is down to around four per cent, and Atlantic Canada has lost a lot of momentum because a lot of the fiscal stimulus there has wound down,” he explained.

He noted that while all provinces are losing workers to Alberta and to a lesser extent Saskatchewan, the drain was especially dramatic in Atlantic Canada, where out migration hit 11,000, or 0.5 per cent of the population, during the last 12-month period for which there is data.

The major factor for the movement is availability of work, the report says. Alberta and Saskatchewan lead the nation with unemployment rates of 4.4 and 3.6 per cent respectively, well below the 6.9 per cent national average.

The four Atlantic provinces, meanwhile, have jobless rates ranging from 9.1 per cent in Nova Scotia to 11.0 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.

As well, average hourly wages are now $6 higher in Alberta than they are in Atlantic Canada — the highest gap on record — and about $4 higher than in Ontario and British Columbia. Other factors include housing affordability and taxes. Alberta has a relatively low provincial tax burden and no provincial sales tax.

Kavcic says a mobile labour force is not necessarily a bad thing since resources are diverted to where they are needed, but it also means some regions are losing skilled workers and entrepreneurs.

The movement somewhat belies industry and federal government complaints about the lack of flexibility in the labour market.

The Harper government and industry have complained for years about labour shortages in specific regions and skills, with Ottawa introducing several measures, including tighter unemployment insurance rules, in an effort to force the jobless to go further afield.

Kavcic said some governmental moves have helped increase mobility, including recent agreements between provinces that have eliminated some of the barriers to labour movements.

In terms of the most advantageous areas to work and live, BMO says Regina tops the list in terms of job prospects, median employment income, housing affordability and low taxes, followed by three other prairie cities — Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon.

Ottawa and Toronto come in eighth and ninth, Vancouver 11th and Montreal 14th. Among the least attractive of the 19 areas surveyed, BMO listed Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, London, Ont., and New Brunswick in that order from the bottom.

Just Posted

Red Deer city council aims to force larger non-profits to become more accountable

New bylaw defines which not-for-profits must pay for a business licence

Smaller, more affordable, lots wanted in Red Deer’s Evergreen neighbourhood

Council approves first reading of requested lot-size changes

RDC’s new name to be unveiled in February

The next big milestone for Red Deer College is a new name,… Continue reading

Lacombe considering licensing cats

Council is expected to take a look at cat potential licensing regulations next month

Lacombe updating its nuisance bylaw

New bylaw expected to address everything from noisy snowblowers to driveway wrecks

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Opinion: Faith in immigration must be preserved

Canada has a deserved reputation for extending its arms to newcomers, but… Continue reading

Olympian Adam van Koeverden wins federal Liberal nomination in Ontario riding

MILTON, Ont. — Former Olympic flag-bearer Adam van Koeverden will be carrying… Continue reading

World champion Osmond says it’s “really nice” not to know what future holds

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Kaetlyn Osmond has a world title, Olympic medals… Continue reading

World economy forecast to slow in 2019 amid trade tensions

For Canada, the IMF’s estimate for growth in 2019 was 1.9 per cent, down from expected global growth of 3.5 per cent

Timberlake pops in on patients at Texas children’s hospital

DALLAS — Justin Timberlake has pulled some sunshine from his pocket for… Continue reading

UK police speak to Prince Philip about not wearing seatbelt

LONDON — British police have spoken with Prince Philip after the husband… Continue reading

‘Gotti’ leads Razzie nominations, Trump up for worst actor

The nominations were announced on Monday, Jan. 21 with some movies earning up to six nominations

Curtain rising Sunday night on total lunar eclipse

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The celestial curtain will be rising soon on… Continue reading

Most Read