So many people from the rest of the country are moving to Alberta that the province has cancelled its “Alberta is Calling” program. The program, which boasted of “bigger paycheques” and “smaller rent cheques,” had encouraged Canadians to consider the province as a new home. It turns out a lot don’t need much encouragement.
In the 3rd quarter of this year, Alberta was the only province other than New Brunswick (which had a slight gain) that had a net interprovincial migration. Most of the population gains were due to migration from Ontario and British Columbia.
It’s no coincidence that these two provinces have the highest housing prices, BC followed by Ontario, and Vancouver and Toronto have the country’s most expensive rents. “Alberta is Calling” talk about “smaller rent cheques” is no idle boast. Someone from Vancouver or Toronto can rent a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary for close to half what they paid in their home province. A homeowner could buy two houses for what they sold their house for in Vancouver or Toronto and rent one of them out. And they could do even better than that in Edmonton.
As for the “bigger paycheques” part of the boast, that applies, too. Average individual incomes in Alberta are 10 to 15 percent higher than in BC and Ontario. Say what you will about the oil business, it pays top dollar.
Taxes may or may not be a factor in the migration. Marginal income tax rates for low and middle income earners are lower in BC and Ontario, but Alberta does have the enticement of no provincial sales tax.
Despite the popularity of their province, Albertans are not escaping the high cost of living faced by their fellow Canadians. Particularly in the case of housing. While Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner proclaimed the “Alberta is Calling” campaign a success, he noted its effect on housing here, saying “We think Alberta called and many, many answered but it has taken up a lot of the vacancies. The housing market’s very tight.”
Alberta is very popular—so is Canada. Immigration to Alberta is squeezing the province’s housing market just as immigration to Canada is squeezing the country’s housing market. Canada’s population growth for 2023 is shaping up to exceed any other year since Confederation, 96 percent of it due to immigration.
It appears that the right hand of housing isn’t co-ordinating with the left-hand of immigration.