Young people heading west to take advantage of job opportunities
Horace Greeley, The Village People, the Pet Shop Boys (covering the Village People), they all had it right. “Go west,” they said.
Young Canadians are heeding this advice and reaping the rewards according to a new report from the Fraser Institute “an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.”
The report, Go West, Young Adults: The 10-Year Western Boom in Investment, Jobs and Incomes, finds that Alberta and Saskatchewan offer the most opportunity for young Canadians seeking at least a middle class income level while Ontario and Quebec are showing a decline that imitates the “economic malaise” of Atlantic Canada.
“Western Canada is the land of opportunity while Ontario and Quebec, the two most populous provinces, now resemble Atlantic Canada with its gloomy economic outlook and relatively poor prospects for young people,” said Mark Milke, study author and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, according to a press release.
The study compares Canada’s 10 provinces on economic indicators such as employment rates, income levels, private sector investment, and population patterns to determine the levels of opportunity for young adults.
- “Between 2003 and 2012, on a net basis, Alberta welcomed 60,855 career-age young adults (aged 25–34) from other parts of the country, by far the highest number among the provinces, followed by British Columbia (10,643) and Saskatchewan (581).
“Meanwhile, during that same 10-year period, every other province lost young adults. Ontario lost 27,451 young adults while Quebec lost 24,355.”
Milke said, “The statistics clearly show a steady exodus of young Canadians from provinces in Central and Eastern Canada to the greener pastures of the West.”
Jobs, says the report, are the reason for the migration. Salaries are another factor.
“Alberta’s average per person income in 2012 (the latest statistical year available) was $52,207, far higher than Ontario ($40,838) and Quebec ($37,106).”
Our own recent research, meanwhile, actually puts the average salary in Alberta even higher, at $67,760. Saskatchewan was a close second place, with $56,380. The two towns with the highest earnings by province were Alberta’s Wood Buffalo, with an average income of $127,960, followed by Saskatchewan’s Estevan, where the average income is $82,220.
Compare these with Petawawa, which has the highest income in Ontario, at $72,010, and Baie Comeau, which tops Quebec’s incomes at $59, 890.
“Today, any young Canadian seeking economic opportunity—a full-time job and the possibility of a middle-income salary or better—has a much better shot in Western Canada,” Milke is quoted as saying. “Ontario and Quebec are not providing opportunities for young adults and have been losing their best and brightest to the dynamic, opportunity-rich economies of Western Canada.”