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British Columbians leaving for other provinces at decade-high, many going to Alberta: StatsCan

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More people moved out of British Columbia than moved in between July and September, according to new data from Statistics Canada, and many outgoing residents went next door to Alberta.

It was the fifth quarter in a row that B.C. saw a net decrease in interprovincial migration—the longest stretch during which B.C. has lost more people to other provinces than it gained in a decade.

In the third quarter of 2023, 17,186 people left B.C. for another province or territory and 12,552 moved here, making for a net loss of 4,634.

Since interprovincial migration went into the negative in July 2022, a total of 89,405 people have moved away. During that same period, 75,913 people from other provinces came to B.C.—making for an overall net loss of just under 13,000.

ALBERTA BOUND

B.C. is not alone in net losses to elsewhere in Canada. Every province and territory saw more people going out than coming in between July and September—except for Alberta and New Brunswick.

New Brunswick’s net gain was marginal at 21, but Alberta’s gain from provincial exchanges was 17,094 in those three months, with September marking the 15th consecutive month it has had a net gain of more than 10,000 people.

“Most of Alberta's population gains through interprovincial migration were due to its exchanges with Ontario and British Columbia,” StatsCan wrote in a release accompanying the data.

Between July 2022 and June 2023, almost 37,000 British Columbians chose Alberta as their new home, according to StatsCan.

One British Columbian looking to our neighbour to the east is lifelong Kamloops resident Michael Taylor. He and his wife are expecting their third child.

"We need to kind of upsize our house now, and we're looking at options here, and just how expensive it is,” he told CTV News. He said a house big enough for his growing family would be two-thirds of the cost in Alberta than if he stayed in B.C.

“From B.C. to Alberta, the biggest difference is the housing prices, but there's also a lot of other affordability issues that are better there. I mean gas is cheaper, there's no sales tax,” Taylor said.

INTERNATIONAL IMMIGRATION AT RECORD HIGH

While B.C. is losing people to other provinces, it is seeing the highest levels of international migration since StatsCan started collecting the data in 1971.

“It’s a reflection of a really strong economy in British Columbia and people wanting to come here for opportunities,” Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon told CTV News.

In the third quarter of 2023, B.C. recorded a net international migration gain of 66,190 people—most of whom are non-permanent residents, such as those holding work or study permits. Total net international migration for the year so far is 157,333.

“Having people coming to B.C. is not a challenge we’re dealing with, attracting people to come here is not a challenge, the challenge we’re dealing with is having the housing to keep people here,” Kahlon said.

“Alberta is dealing with the same challenge,” he added.

B.C.’s population grew by 3.2 per cent over the last year, almost exclusively due to immigration.

“My biggest fear as minister of housing is that in the coming years we start losing young people to other jurisdictions, whether it’s other provinces or other parts of the world, because we don’t have enough housing options available for them,” Kahlon said.

When asked about Taylor’s decision to move to Alberta, Kahlon said his goal is to keep people in B.C., pointing to the legislation passed during the fall session in an effort to get more homes built across the province.

At the end of the day, one of the hardest things about moving away is not finances, but leaving loved ones behind.

"I'm trying to convince my mom to sell her house and move out there too, so she could have a nice stable retirement,” Taylor said.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Abigail Turner

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