Yesterday, Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, tweeted out the following regarding recent increases in housing starts in Alberta.
His tweet claims that housing starts are the highest they’ve been since 2015 and then implied that because of this, it means people are—to quote his tweet—choosing Alberta to work and raise their families.
The tweet references an article recently published by Rob Roach, deputy chief economist at ATB.
Roach’s article claims that according to Statistics Canada data released this week,
“Annual housing starts in Alberta last year were 33% higher than in 2020 and 17% higher than in 2019. At 31,935, they were also the highest they have been since 2015 when they came in at 37,282.Roach, Rob. “Alberta housing starts highest in seven years”, The Owl, 18 January 2022.
Here’s a graph Roach included in his article illustrating housing starts over the last 21 years.
And sure enough, as you can see, housing starts are the highest they’ve been since 2015. In fact, until 2021, they’d been pretty stagnant for several years.
But is this proof that people are choosing Alberta to work and raise their families?
Well, I already showed in an earlier news article that 8,500 more people have left Alberta for other provinces than the other way around, since the UCP were elected.
And while we did see a net increase of 4,489 people move here from other provinces during the third quarter of 2021, that follows 5 consecutive quarters of net interprovincial migration losses. Since the third quarter of 2020, we’ve had a net loss of 15,882 interprovincial movers.
So, it doesn’t look like people are moving here. At least not yet.
But let’s just assume they are. If we say that about Alberta because housing starts are up, then we have to say it about other provinces, since Alberta didn’t see the largest increase between 2020 and 2021.
Saskatchewan was first place, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador. Alberta was third.
And if we compare 2021 with 2019—you know, before the pandemic hit and shut down the construction industry—Alberta is in 6th place.
That’s a lot less impressive than what Jason Kenney was making it out to be.
Not only that, but Alberta was 1 of only 4 provinces that saw a drop in housing starts between 2019 and 2020.
And finally, if we compare housing starts over the last 7 years (the period mentioned in Kenney’s tweet image), we see that Alberta is in 7th place.
So, even though housing starts in Alberta are at their highest point in the last 7 years, there are 6 other provinces who’ve seen higher growth than we have.
This isn’t the good news Jason Kenney thinks it is. Or rather the good news he wants us to believe it is.