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Leaving BC


This last week I had a conversation with a young couple with children about their friends leaving Kelowna.  In the last six months, they have had not one – but two families in their close circle move to Alberta. 


When I asked what their reasons were, the answers were simple: they couldn’t find housing and they couldn’t afford to live here.


In recent years, British Columbia has witnessed an unprecedented trend: a steady exodus of its residents to other provinces. 


The root causes? A soaring cost of living and a severe housing crisis. This migration trend, particularly prominent in 2023, raises concerns about the long-term economic and social implications for BC.


Statistics Canada's data for the third quarter of 2023 paints a stark picture. BC experienced a net loss of 4,634 residents, with 17,186 people moving to other provinces and only 12,552 moving in. 


This marks the largest net loss of residents to other parts of Canada for any quarter since 2000. Over the entire year, 57,374 people left BC, while 51,478 moved in, highlighting a sustained pattern of out-migration for five consecutive quarters, a trend not seen for a decade.


So where are most going?  Alberta: The Preferred Destination


Alberta has seen net gains of over 10,000 people for five consecutive quarters. 


The "Alberta is Calling" campaign, launched in 2022, appears to have been effective in luring residents from BC and Ontario with promises of "bigger paycheques" and "smaller rent cheques."


BC, particularly the Metro Vancouver area, is notorious for its exorbitant housing prices and rental rates. 


These costs have continued to escalate, pushing residents to seek more affordable living conditions elsewhere. Alberta, with its relatively lower housing costs and taxes, presents a more financially viable option for many.


I remember back to another time in the late 1990s, early 2000s when this outward interprovincial migration was last seen. I had family members living in BC that went to Alberta.  The economy in BC was terrible, but Alberta was doing well. Many left BC so that they could find jobs and make ends meet.


This migration trend is a wake-up call. It underscores the urgent need for effective housing policies and measures to tackle the high cost of living. If left unaddressed, BC risks losing not just its residents but also the talent and economic diversity they bring. The province needs to ensure that it remains a desirable place to live, work, and invest in, for both its current residents and future generations.


The next generation of young people are leaving BC to be able to afford to buy a home, and to find jobs that match what they pay for them. They are getting paid more in other provinces because businesses are paying less tax and able to pay their employees more. Industry is stronger, and not in decline like in BC.


The only antidote to the high cost of living is a surging economy with great jobs and high paycheques.  But this is not the case. Economists have warned that the impact of the

CleanBC plan is only starting to be felt, with corporate investment diminishing and our economy shrinking. 


The situation in BC is a clear indicator of how crucial it is for government to balance economic growth with affordability and quality of life. It's a delicate balance, but one that is essential for the long-term well-being of BC.


My question to you is this: Are you concerned about this outward interprovincial migration?


I love hearing from you and read every email. 


Please email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call the office at 250-712-3620.

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