Metro Vancouver & Fraser Valley Attracting Young Canadians
Of course, everyone wants young people to settle in their province. An ability to attract young migrants is a barometer of prosperity and livability and, for taxpayers, a younger age cohort tends to be more productive and less costly in terms of health care.
A new study by Mark Milke, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, states that there is no contest — Alberta wins top prize for its ability to attract “young talent” from right across Canada.
Accounting for 11 per cent of Canada’s population, Alberta now lays claim to nearly 17 per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 34.
The study’s main observation is that the West, particularly the Prairie provinces, has been acting over the past decade as a magnet for young people seeking brighter futures. Meanwhile, Ontario and Quebec have lost their attraction, now resembling the Maritime provinces on this barometer.
But the research also provides insight into how B.C. — often perceived as the most beautiful and temperate province in the country — has fared in terms of its ability to lure younger Canadians.
Aptly titled Go West, Young Adults: The 10-Year Western Boom in Investment, Jobs and Income, the report reveals B.C. is one of only three provinces that, on a net basis between 2003 and 2012, attracted career-age young adults.
Some 10,600 young Canadians moved to B.C. — a number dwarfed by the 60,800 who pitched tents in Alberta. Saskatchewan stayed about even, gaining about 580 — at least an improvement over past decades when it lost young people.
Quebec lost 24,355 young adults, while 27,452 between the ages of 25 and 34 left Ontario on a net basis.
The report features statistics that demonstrate the young people knew exactly what they were doing, choosing destination provinces where employment and income levels are high, and where private-sector investment is robust.
On many of these measures, B.C. does not do nearly as well as Alberta or Saskatchewan and, in some cases, even Newfoundland and Labrador. As the report puts it: “B.C. shows uneven strength across the indicators.”
Per-capita private-sector investment — an excellent indicator of positive economic activity — was, in 2012, $4,677 in B.C., compared to $15,500 in Alberta and $11,000 in both Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.
Similarly, income per capita in 2012 was $41,239 in B.C., behind Alberta at $52,200, and Saskatchewan at $42,200. And income growth over the decade was most significant in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.
Tax filers reporting $100,000-plus incomes in 2011 represented 6.3 per cent of the total in B.C., compared with 12.2 per cent in Alberta and 7.4 per cent in Saskatchewan.
Obviously, the numbers suggest Canada’s oil-producing provinces have been performing best economically and offering the brightest opportunities.
And this trio, as a result, has been able to attract young adults from other provinces.
The numbers show B.C., too, has been attracting young people. But that, possibly, is because it has other things going for it, like warmer weather and natural beauty.
So, is it all about whether a given province is possessed of petroleum resources?
Milke says, not entirely. He points to the poverty of oil-endowed countries like Nigeria and Venezuela, and wealth of Singapore and Hong Kong.
“Some provinces do have natural resources, but may choose not to exploit them or have difficulty doing so for political or other reasons.”
B.C., notes Milke, has rich mining deposits but is having problems “attracting positive investment perceptions because of concerns over native land claims and regulatory hurdles, among other things.”
As young people who move to B.C. soon discover, for better or worse this province measures prosperity in its own distinct way.
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