11/21/2013 01:42 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

Migration Between Provinces Higher Than Ever

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The number of Canadians who move between provinces has hit the highest level in more than 25 years, a report from the Bank of Montreal published Thursday suggests.

Far and away the biggest beneficiary of that migration is Alberta, the bank says, where more than 50,000 people have moved from elsewhere in Canada in the past year. That figure alone is enough to bump the province's population by 1.3 per cent, before immigrants are factored in.

Saskatchewan is also seeing an influx of people, albeit less than Alberta. Every other region of the country has experienced a decline in the number of people coming from other parts of Canada.

Atlantic Canada had 11,000 Canadians move elsewhere this year, or a meaningful 0.5 per cent of the population.

Employment is often a key driver in people's decision to move, and on two major fronts — finding a job if you don't have one, or finding a better-paying one if you do — Alberta and to a lesser extent Saskatchewan are giving people reasons to move there.

"Wages in Ontario and B.C. were $2/hour higher than in Alberta during the late-1990s, but are now $4/hour lower, a legacy of the oil boom," BMO economist Robert Kavcic said in the report.

Jobless rates in both provinces are hovering at around four per cent, compared to about 7.5 per cent in Quebec and Ontario, and around 10 per cent in Atlantic Canada.

On the salary front, the average hourly wage in Alberta is now $6 higher than it is in Atlantic Canada. That's the highest the gap has ever been, BMO says.

The report also ranks cities in terms of something the bank calls their "labour market attractiveness" and Calgary and Regina come out in the top two slots across the country because of their lower tax burdens, and housing affordability.

"Interprovincial migration is alive and well in Canada," Kavcic said. "While there are winners and losers, a mobile 
labour force isn’t necessarily a bad thing to the extent that resources are directed to where they are most needed."

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