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Movement of workers greatest in Quebec and Ontario

By Adam Freill   


Canada’s two largest provinces have largest numbers of worker populations employed outside of their home economic regions.

Net flows of paid workers jobs by economic region, 2021. (Source: Statistics Canda, Table 36-10-0675-01, May 2022)

Statistics Canada reports that, in 2021, Quebec and Ontario contained the economic regions that were the largest sources or destinations of workers employed outside of their home economic region. All economic regions in other provinces posted a much lower net job flow (fluctuating between a gain of 10,000 jobs and a loss of 10,000 jobs) with the exception of Wood Buffalo–Cold Lake in Alberta and Winnipeg in Manitoba.

Almost all economic regions in the Atlantic provinces had relatively more workers leaving than entering. In contrast, the three territories, central and northern British Columbia and most northern economic regions in other provinces attracted more workers from other regions.

As labour demands may exceed local availability, whether long-term or temporarily, some economic regions depend on workers from other regions of the country. As a result, many paid workers leave their home economic region to work outside of it. They may commute daily or make one or more round trips each month.

These exchanges of workers between regions result either in a positive net flow when the region receives more external workers than it provides to other regions, or in a negative net flow in the opposite situation.


In the 2021 data, StatsCan found that each economic region that receives a large number of workers is surrounded by a cluster of economic regions that send a considerable workforce to different destinations.

Quebec and Ontario have formed such clusters around Montreal, with a positive net flow of about 333,000 jobs, Toronto, with 145,000 jobs, as well as Ottawa (plus-40,000 jobs) and Capitale-Nationale around Quebec City (plus-21,000 jobs). Within these clusters, the main sources of labour are Monteregie (minus-144,000 jobs), Lanaudiere (-79,000 jobs), and Laurentides (negative-66,000 jobs) in Quebec, and the Hamilton–Niagara Peninsula, with a negative net flow of 61,000 jobs, in Ontario.




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