Goal 1

Inter-Provincial Migration Deep Dive


Goal Status

Progressing and Surpassing checkmark icon Progressing and Surpassing
Baseline: -2000
Target: 1000
Current: 2124
Bands

Historically, interprovincial migration to and from Nova Scotia has varied significantly over time. While this is so, since the mid-1990s, in-migration to Nova Scotia has remained relatively steady. Out-migration to other provinces has been the primary source of variation in net interprovincial migration. However, since 2014 in-migration has been trending upward and out-migration has been declining.

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.

Year Net In-Migration Out-Migration
1971/1972 -190 15408 15598
1972/1973 3511 17301 13790
1973/1974 983 18218 17235
1974/1975 1794 17589 15795
1975/1976 2667 16392 13725
1976/1977 -630 13368 13998
1977/1978 -298 12661 12959
1978/1979 -183 12717 12900
1979/1980 -1792 11425 13217
1980/1981 -2069 12796 14865
1981/1982 -1624 13215 14839
1982/1983 2950 13767 10817
1983/1984 3040 13103 10063
1984/1985 1930 12412 10482
1985/1986 -898 11764 12662
1986/1987 -1047 11905 12952
1987/1988 -1659 12734 14393
1988/1989 194 14291 14097
1989/1990 56 15215 15159
1990/1991 -328 13456 13784
1991/1992 -11 12986 12997
1992/1993 -36 12543 12579
1993/1994 -1438 11024 12462
1994/1995 -2296 10926 13222
1995/1996 -1069 11782 12851
1996/1997 -1319 11331 12650
1997/1998 -1887 11839 13726
1998/1999 -101 11355 11456
1999/2000 -334 11836 12170
2000/2001 -1688 11225 12913
2001/2002 -625 12253 12878
2002/2003 272 12426 12154
2003/2004 -613 11239 11852
2004/2005 -2358 11375 13733
2005/2006 -2600 11403 14003
2006/2007 -3996 11009 15005
2007/2008 -1975 11825 13800
2008/2009 -1214 11449 12663
2009/2010 304 11485 11181
2010/2011 -199 10966 11165
2011/2012 -2487 10782 13269
2012/2013 -2970 9619 12589
2013/2014 -2488 9925 12413
2014/2015 -2422 10253 12675
2015/2016 360 11368 11008
2016/2017 1840 11499 9659
2017/2018 1664 12485 10821

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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.

Year Migrants Investment
2000 2745 31433
2001 2898 34285
2002 2709 33415
2003 2894 38003
2004 4506 42867
2005 5472 53068
2006 6636 59775
2007 5100 61862
2008 4513 65441
2009 3110 43630
2010 3549 55368
2011 4962 65347
2012 5342 73706
2013 5402 85186
2014 5141 90006
2015 3046 66040
2016 2466 51586
2017 2427 50643

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Since mid-2014, 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. As investment in Alberta declined over this period, fewer out-migrants from Nova Scotia were destined for Alberta. As of 2018/2019, annual out-migration to Alberta has declined to half of what it had been in 2013/2014. This has reduced the size of net-migration substantially and has resulted in net population gains for Nova Scotia over the last three years. Nova Scotia saw a net population gain in the last year from all provinces except Quebec and Prince Edward Island.

PROVINCE 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015 2015/2016 2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019
NL 937 917 994 982 987 1100 1165 1480
PE 528 489 550 530 494 488 510 563
NB 2232 1931 2048 2110 2175 1973 2061 2163
QC 778 740 705 735 735 763 738 658
ON 5450 4551 4815 4788 4970 5504 5647 6123
MB 387 290 377 360 328 350 426 493
SK 246 256 317 274 330 337 325 347
AB 2245 2089 2312 2734 3637 3129 2748 2745
BC 1334 1181 1073 1102 1230 1449 1621 2263

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PROVINCE 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015 2015/2016 2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019
NL 1117 1005 968 934 786 616 578 536
PE 587 431 427 441 450 433 429 606
NB 2093 1759 1787 1739 1714 1633 1716 1979
QC 716 588 556 687 628 635 734 1055
ON 5074 4725 4452 4874 5239 4843 4743 4903
MB 353 297 238 296 329 269 204 173
SK 452 427 423 370 248 227 212 246
AB 4962 5342 5402 5141 3046 2466 2427 2724
BC 1580 1304 1446 1474 1663 1198 1221 1273

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PROVINCE 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015 2015/2016 2016/2017 2017/2018 2018/2019
NL -180 -88 26 48 201 484 587 944
PE -59 58 123 89 44 55 81 -43
NB 139 172 261 371 461 340 345 184
QC 62 152 149 48 107 128 4 -397
ON 376 -174 363 -86 -269 661 904 1220
MB 34 -7 139 64 -1 81 222 320
SK -206 -171 -106 -96 82 110 113 101
AB -2717 -3253 -3090 -2407 591 663 321 21
BC -246 -123 -373 -372 -433 251 400 990

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At the county level, net migration tends to follow the same overall trend as the provincial total. Most counties saw net inflows of working age people in 2017/2018. Cape Breton had the largest net outflow among the counties that year. Only Cape Breton, Antigonish and Colchester counties have not seen at least one net inflow of working age people in the last three years.

CENSUS DIVISION NET INTERPROVINCIAL MIGRATION
Shelburne 81
Yarmouth 87
Digby 90
Queens 55
Annapolis 158
Lunenburg 98
Kings 113
Hants 57
Halifax 1007
Colchester -34
Cumberland 61
Pictou -1
Guysborough 15
Antigonish -40
Inverness 43
Richmond 30
Cape Breton -190
Victoria 34

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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.