Goal 1

Inter-Provincial Migration - Deep Dive

Nova Scotia will be averaging a net gain of 1,000 working age persons per year.

Updated:

Historically, inter-provincial migration to and from Nova Scotia has varied significantly over time. While both in-migration and out-migration have varied over time, since the mid-1990s, in-migration to Nova Scotia has remained relatively steady, while out-migration to other provinces has been the primary source of variation in net inter-provincial migration.

Nova Scotia’s inter-provincial migration flows have been driven to a significant extent by current macroeconomic conditions. As far back as the 1990s, the province’s net inter-provincial migration has generally been counter-cyclical – net outmigration has tended to slow down when the national economy is in recession and speed up when the national economy is expanding.

yearin-migrationout-migrationnet
19711540815598-190
197217301137903511
19731821817235983
197417589157951794
197516392137252667
19761336813998-630
19771266112959-298
19781271712900-183
19791142513217-1792
19801279614865-2069
19811321514839-1624
198213767108172950
198313103100633040
198412412104821930
19851176412662-898
19861190512952-1047
19871273414393-1659
19881429114097194
1989152151515956
19901345613784-328
19911298612997-11
19921254312579-36
19931102412462-1438
19941092613222-2296
19951178212851-1069
19961133112650-1319
19971183913726-1887
19981135511456-101
19991183612170-334
20001122512913-1688
20011225312878-625
20021242612154272
20031123911852-613
20041137513733-2358
20051140314003-2600
20061100915005-3996
20071182513800-1975
20081144912663-1214
20091148511181304
20101096611165-199
20111078213269-2487
2012961912589-2970
2013992512413-2488
20141025312675-2422
20151085012208-1358

Inter-provincial migration has tended to average around the break-even point during national recessions in the early 1990s, the early 2000s, and 2009, while there has been significant net outmigration during the economic boom of the mid-2000s and the post-2009 recovery period.

This suggests that inter-provincial migration flows from Nova Scotia have been driven as much, or more, by strong labour demand pulls from provinces like Alberta and Ontario than by local economic conditions. Migration from Nova Scotia to Alberta, for example, has been highly correlated with non-residential investment in Alberta associated largely with the oil and gas industry.

yearmigrantsinvestment
2000274527893
2001289830424
2002270929652
2003289433723
2004450638040
2005547247091
2006663653043
2007510054895
2008451358071
2009311038717
2010354949133
2011496257987
2012534265405
2013540275592
2014514178673
2015368458632

Over the past four years, Nova Scotia has seen both an increase in the number of migrants coming from other provinces as well as a decrease in the number of migrants leaving for other provinces.

Alberta has seen this trend with Nova Scotia migrants, as oil prices and investment slumped in the past two years. In 2016/17, 2,800 Nova Scotian’s moved to Alberta – 2,600 fewer than in 2013/14. And in 2016/17, almost 3,400 Albertans moved to Nova Scotia, compared to 2,100 in 2012/13. This has turned Nova Scotia’s net population loss to Alberta into a net population gain for the past two years.

Nova Scotia has also seen a net positive population gain in the last year from all other provinces except Ontario and Prince Edward Island.

province2011/20122012/20132013/20142014/20152015/2016
NL9379179949821031
PE528489550530594
NB22321931204821102290
QC778740705735566
ON54504551481547884844
MB387290377360284
SK246256317274255
AB22452089231227343039
BC13341181107311021448

province2011/20122012/20132013/20142014/20152015/2016
NL11171005968934884
PE587431427441363
NB20931759178717391997
QC716588556687615
ON50744725445248745473
MB353297238296330
SK452427423370314
AB49625342540251413684
BC15801304144614741763

province2011/20122012/20132013/20142014/20152015/2016
NL-180-882648147
PE-595812389231
NB139172261371293
QC6215214948-49
ON376-174363-86-629
MB34-713964-46
SK-206-171-106-96-59
AB-2717-3253-3090-2407-645
BC-246-123-373-372-315

Changes to the indicator, baseline, or target:

  • Due to historical revisions to the data by Statistics Canada, the baseline has been revised from -800 per year to -2,000 per year.
  • “Working age” was defined as ages 18-64 for this goal.
  • The target was maintained at +1,000 working age net inter-provincial migration per year.