Quebecers leaving the province in big numbers

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

New data released by Statistics Canada this week suggests that Quebec is losing people to other provinces at a rate not seen in over a decade.

According to a report by the Montreal Gazette, the movers' favoured destination is west down the 401.

A total of 28,439 people moved from Quebec to another province from January to September 2013 — the highest number of departures for that period in any year since 2000.

In most cases, Quebec’s loss was Ontario’s gain, with two out of three ex-Quebecers moving to Ontario, one in four to Alberta and just under one in ten to British Columbia, according to quarterly demographic estimates released by Statistics Canada in December.

Jack Jedwab, a demographer with the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration, says that the reasons for the exodus is likely more economic than political.

"These numbers have a very recessionary look to them, at a time when we’re not in a recession," he told the Gazette admitting that he will have to rethink his hypothesis if the negative population trend continues.

[ Related: 'Quebec is already independent in its mind,' PQ minister says ]

Not to contradict a learned demographer but there seems to be some anecdotal evidence that some of those people leaving Quebec are doing so because the separatist Parti Quebcois is in power.

Other provinces, particularly in Eastern Canada, are losing residents in big numbers as well but what's peculiar in Quebec's case is that they're losing residents to Ontario.

Ontario's economy isn't much better than Quebec's. In fact, their respective GDP growth rates and unemployment rates were virtually identical in 2013.

There's also circumstantial evidence — that the PQ is driving Anglophones away — in the form of a February 2013 poll commissioned by the CBC.

"Forty-two per cent of [Anglophones] surveyed in the EKOS research poll said they have considered leaving the province in the wake of the PQ victory.

In particular, the PQ's stance on language restrictions has raised eyebrows in the English-speaking community."

CBC reporters also spoke to an eastern Ontario realtor who says her Quebec client list has grown significantly since September 2012.

"We tend to notice a surge when the PQ gets into power," broker Jackie Smith said estimating that business had increased by a whopping 25 per cent since the PQ took office.

Keep in mind that these figures are from before the PQ government formally unveiled their controversial Values Charter which would essentially ban all government employees from wearing religious symbols in public institutions.

[ Related: Why are people leaving Prince Edward Island? ]

I guess we'll have to wait and see if a separatist government is really the cause of the 'mass' departure.

The concerning thing for Quebec politicos, businesses and landowners is that all this is happening while the PQ only have a minority government.

What's going to happen if they get a majority?

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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