Alberta sees lowest net gain in interprovincial immigration

Alberta saw 2,183 more people move here from other provinces over the last year than the other way around, its lowest net gain since 1971.

Last month, the Alberta government released immigration data for the province.

The province saw net immigration of 35,412 during the 2019–2020 reporting year. This is down by 2,159 over the previous year, but the second highest net immigration since 2014–2015.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Returning emigrants4,311
Net temporary emigrants-1,569
Net non-permanent residents8
Net interprovincial migrants2,183
Total net immigration35,412

Returning emigrants are Canadians who permanently emigrated from Canada and have returned as permanent residents.

Net temporary emigrants are Canadian residents who temporarily moved to another country but intend on returning to live in Canada.

Net non-permanent residents are temporarily residing in Canada over a 2-year period with a study, work, or minister’s permit—or as a refugee claimant—and family members living with them.

Now, here’s how it compares to the previous year:

Returning emigrants4,3115,071
Net temporary emigrants-1,569-2,301
Net non-permanent residents82,759
Net interprovincial migrants2,183-2,032
Total net immigration35,41237,571

As I mentioned earlier, total net immigration is down compared to last year, but there are a few other things that seem interesting here.

While fewer people moved to Alberta this year over last year, fewer people also moved away. We also had fewer returning emigrants, but we also had fewer temporary emigrants leave.

Probably one of the biggest shockers is how low the net non-permanent residents number is. Over the last 49 years, there have been only 16 years with numbers lower than that. If you exclude all the net losses, it’s actually the smallest net gain. I presume that it was because of the pandemic, with fewer people coming to Canada for most of 2020 and potentially some non-permanent residents returned to their home countries at the start of the pandemic.

Interprovincial immigration, on the other hand, was up. In fact, this was the highest it’s been since 2014–2015, and given that Alberta saw 2,032 leave for other provinces last year, this is an increase of 4,215 over last year.

That being said, it’s still not that high.

For 4 years straight (2015–2019), Alberta saw more people move to other provinces within Canada than those who moved here from other provinces. The year before that 4-year slump, Alberta saw a net increase of 21,594 move here from other provinces.

In fact, if you ignore the years when Alberta saw a net loss of interprovincial immigration, this past reporting year saw the lowest net gain of interprovincial immigration since at least 1971.

The next lowest net gain was in 1973–1974, when Alberta saw a net increase of 2,911 in interprovincial immigration.

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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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