Voting with Their Feet: Migration in Atlantic Canada

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Voting with Their Feet: Migration in Atlantic Canada


  • Migration is a perennial topic of interest in Atlantic Canada. Out-migration specifically has been widely recognized as both a symptom of the region’s economic weakness and a potential threat to its future well-being.
  • Atlantic Canada experienced a net out-migration of 66,396 people between 2000/01 and 2019/20. The out-migration is largest in New Brunswick, which lost 21,974 people.
  • In four of the past five years, Atlantic Canada has experienced in-migration, as more people moved to the region than left. However, the quantity of in-migration has not been enough to offset the out-migration experienced in the years leading up to 2016/17.
  • Over the past 20 years, most (74.3 percent) of Atlantic Canada’s interprovincial out-migrants have moved to Alberta and Ontario. Economic developments in these provinces affect migration patterns in Atlantic Canada.
  • The Atlantic Provinces have significantly increased the number of international immigrants coming to the region over the past several years. While this represents an important potential source of population growth, the region still struggles with low retention rates, which reduces the benefit of bringing newcomers to the region.
  • The phenomenon of out-migration in Atlantic Canada over 14 of the past 20 years is a significant concern for the region. Migration patterns are important to overall economic success; international evidence shows that people tend to move where they are likely to find economic growth, higher paying jobs, and prosperity.

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