2,700 people left Alberta in 2nd quarter of 2020

But don’t blame it on the UCP just yet.

Statistics Canada recently released interprovincial migration data for the second quarter of 2020.

Alberta had 17,898 people move in from other provinces between April and June, yet saw 20,631 move away to other provinces. In other words, Alberta saw a net loss of 2,733 people.

It’d be easy for NDP supporters to take this number and use it to paint the UCP in a negative light, “See? Kenney’s doing such a bad job that thousands of people are leaving Alberta.”

In fact, a recent Calgary Herald article sort of did just that. The article focused mainly on economic and pandemic conditions, but it also had this to say:

Stories of Alberta doctors leaving the province have also made news in recent months amid escalating conflicts with the UCP government.

They also framed this as rare and on the heels of net gains in migration. For example:

The data follows three consecutive quarters of net growth from interprovincial migration to Alberta.

I mean, that’s technically true. But there was a net loss of over 2,000 in the second quarter of 2019, too. And the previous three months of growth totalled a net growth of just under 5,000. Which means even with the loss of 2,733 in the first quarter of this year, over the last 4 quarters, Alberta saw a net gain of 2,813 people.

Also, consider this quote:

Blake Shaffer, an economist at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, said historically it’s been rare for Alberta to lose more residents to other provinces than it gains.

This is just demonstrably false.

As I said, 2019’s second quarter also saw a net loss. But Alberta saw net losses in interprovincial migration for 13 consecutive quarters since the third quarter of 2015, too.

In fact, there were 67 quarters since 1961 where fewer people moved to Alberta than moved from Alberta.

I mean, sure, most of the time over the last 50 years, Alberta has seen net migration gains, but the number of quarters with losses since 1961 means that, on average, 1 quarter out of every year has seen a net migration loss.

I’d hardly call that rare.

Plus, the net loss Alberta saw in the second quarter of 2020 is less than that seen in 6 of the 13 quarters with net losses during the NDP’s term. Actually, during their 4 years in office, the NDP saw only 3 quarters with a net gain in interprovincial immigration. Throughout the NDP’s entire term, Alberta had a net loss of 28,283 in interprovincial immigration.

If we look at just their first 5 quarters, the NDP had a net migration loss of 9,458, while the UCP had a net gain of 170.

So, I think we should be careful about blaming this one net migration loss on the UCP.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

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