Skip to content

More residents left B.C. for rest of Canada than arrived last year

First time inter-provincial migration numbers have shown a net loss since 2012

British Columbia had more people moving out to other provinces in 2023 than those coming in the opposite direction for the first time in more than a decade, according to figures from Statistics Canada.

The agency said B.C. recorded a net loss of 8,624 people in interprovincial migration last year, something that hasn’t happened since 2012.

B.C. Premier David Eby said in response to the numbers that he is aware of the concerning trend and is taking the issue “head on,” especially when it comes to improving affordability for young people in the province.

“The concern that I have, and that the figures around interprovincial migration raised generally, is making sure that we’re supporting, in particular, young people in British Columbia,” Eby said.

“We want them to see a future here. We want them to see a place where they can raise a family, where they can build their lives, where they have access to affordable child care, affordable housing, that they’re able to manage costs and can continue to build life here.”

Eby said recent provincial announcements on student loan interest rates, free access to birth control and housing plans speak to B.C.’s efforts to retain young people as they are squeezed by increasing living costs.

The premier’s comments came after statistics showed almost 68,000 people moved from B.C. to other areas in Canada, while close to 60,000 people came to the province from elsewhere in Canada.

Statistics Canada said most of B.C.’s population loss was to Alberta, which figures show had the largest interprovincial population gain last year, with more than 55,000 people moving in versus moving out.

The agency said Alberta’s population gain from other provinces is the largest nationally since it began tracking comparable data in 1972.

The migration trend coincided with efforts from Alberta to attract skilled workers from other parts of Canada, with a 2022 campaign targeting Vancouver and Toronto residents, with a second plan last year aimed at Atlantic Canada.

The report from StatCan said Alberta has been recording gains in population from interprovincial migration since 2022, a reverse of the trend seen from 2016 to 2021, when more people left the province than arrived from other parts of Canada.

StatCan said Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island all saw net-positive interprovincial migration last year, but all three provinces gained fewer domestic migrants than the previous two years.

Nationally, Ontario saw the biggest loss in interprovincial migration last year of more than 36,000 people, following another net loss of almost 39,000 people in 2022.

Statistics Canada says the only other times a province had lost more than 35,000 people to other domestic jurisdictions were 1977 and 1978 in Quebec.

Eby said it is important not to overemphasize interprovincial migration numbers, calling it a “subset of the overall picture” where the province is seeing record population growth overall.

StatCan said B.C.’s overall population grew by more than 178,000 in 2023, fuelled by net gains in international migration.

“Just to be clear, and for British Columbians to understand what’s happening in our province, we have set records for in-migration to British Columbia for the last three years,” Eby said. “We added … more than 300,000 people in the last 36 months to this province.

He said the key challenges facing B.C. aren’t those linked to a shrinking population, but rather those related to pressure on demands for services.

“Our public systems are under strain, our hospitals, our schools, you can see it particularly in the Fraser Valley, but also in the fast growing communities like Kelowna and the Interior, and it’s a serious issue.”

READ ALSO: B.C. losing more residents to interprovincial migration

READ ALSO: Canada’s population growing faster than any time in the past 65 years