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by Daniel Gloade on May 5, 2014

There was an article in the The Record recently.  You can find the text here:   In essence, it cited an opinion poll as the basis for the allegation that fewer than half of Canadians were willing to change his or her residence for employment opportunities.  Using this statistic, it argues that this refusal to move may be a reason why we need more foreign workers.  I have looked into the matter more closely, however, and I am convinced that this argument is unsound.

An executive summary of the cited opinion poll can be found here:

It is an international survey focusing on moving to and from another country.  The survey is interesting for several reasons.  First, the main message of the survey is that Canada is the fourth most desirable destination country for employee relocation.  Given the apparent desirability of Canada as a workplace, it is somewhat surprising that only 41% of Canadians state that they are unwilling to relocate to another country when the global average 35%. Second, the survey states that the amount of Canadians willing to relocate to another country is increasing over time.

The survey did not focus on interprovincial relocations.  The same organization, however, issued a statement in 2009.  The text can be found here.

It discussed why Canadians are unwilling to move to another province.  It states:

“Other key findings in the survey continue to show that spousal and family issues are the most likely reason why an employee will reject a transfer. Not surprising with the continued growth of two income households in Canada. CERC’s Cryne said “the typical profile for a transferee is a married professional in that 26-40 age range earning about $95,000; it’s very likely that the spouse is also a professional with similar income and so decisions to move are made as a family unit. The spouse is very likely to ask ‘what does the move mean for my career and what are the options’?”

The article in the Record also quotes a Statistics Canada and Haver Analytics that report that shows that interprovincial mobility has decreased substantially since 1977.  An executive summary of that report can be found here.

When one examines this Report, however, some interesting things appear.  First, the report shows that interprovincial mobility has increased since 2009 to its highest level since 1990.

It is true that interprovincial mobility has dropped since 1977.  When one examines the accompanying grafts, however, one sees that the most significant drop in mobility occurred between 1977 and 1983.

The Statistics Canada Report cited “structural changes” as the main reason for the decline in interprovincial mobility.  I believe that the “structural changes” refers to significant increase in transfer payments between the provinces.

The rapid decline in interprovincial mobility corresponds in a significant increase of the transfer payments between the provinces.  The evidence can be seen here.  The Statistics Canada Haver Analytics Report stated that the most significant factors affecting interprovincial migration are disparities in the unemployment rate and average household incomes.  Since the transfer payments were specifically designed to address this disparity, the results are expected.

The Record article concluded by citing a Report from the OECD that suggests that Canada can do more to reduce employment barriers between the provinces.  The full report can be found here.  The Report praises the Canadian government for the steps taken since 2002 to harmonize accreditation across Canada for skilled workers.  It does suggest, however, that more work can be done.

The OECD Report also noted that the immigration of foreign skilled workers was an economic benefit to Canada.  This part is consistent with the message in the article contained in the Record.  The same Report also noted, however, the significant amount of Canadians who leave Canada for the United States, especially in science and technical fields.  The OECD Report praises efforts by the Canadian government to entice Canadians working abroad back to Canada.  In other words, worker mobility was both a solution and a problem in Canada.

I conclude that there is nothing wrong with the attitude or opinion of Canadians regarding relocating for new employment.



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