Alberta sees its biggest population boom in years — mostly from Ontario

Statistics Canada figures show the largest net gain for the province since the second quarter of 2014, says ATB Financial.

It's the largest net gain since Q2 of 2014, says ATB Financial

Statistics Canada's second-quarter numbers show that 37,122 interprovincial migrants came to Alberta while 27,265 left the province. That's a net gain of 9,857. (David Bell/CBC)

Alberta is experiencing the kind population gains not seen in years, according to new figures from Statistics Canada.

Data from the federal agency shows nearly 10,000 more people relocated to the province from other parts of the country in the second quarter of the year than left.

It also shows Alberta was the leading destination among Canadians moving from Ontario, B.C., Saskatchewan, Yukon and, narrowly, Manitoba.

ATB Financial said this is the largest net gain since the second quarter of 2014, when the province experienced a wave of new arrivals as the oil economy boomed. 

The latest figures also reveal the fourth-consecutive quarter in which Alberta's population grew as a result of interprovincial migration, according to ATB.

Its deputy chief economist, Rob Roach, said the continued momentum is an indicator that something is going right in the economy.

Between "the third quarter of 2015 and early 2021, we lost about almost 50,000 people to other parts of the country," Roach told CBC News.

"Since then, we've gained in total about 21,000-22,000. So we're making up for the ground that we lost, really, when our economy was suffering from the recession."

Volatility important to consider

Influxes usually occur in Alberta as a response to strong economic conditions and high oil prices, said University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe.

"When times are good, with high oil prices, we tend to consistently see big inflows into the province, and these numbers are consistent with that," Tombe said.

But it's also important to remember, he said, that inflows to Alberta can be quite volatile.

"If oil prices decline as they have in recent months, we could see a very quick reversal of the pattern," he said.

Still, Roach said ATB is expecting that, on the whole, Alberta will grow at a greater rate than the country and "that's going to draw people naturally to the province for those economic opportunities."

"Quite a contrast [to] where our economy and energy sector was struggling and we were dealing with the pandemic [in 2020]," Roach said.

"This time around, our economy and energy sector [are] doing well, while we deal with the other economic challenges, like inflation going on. So [it] puts Alberta in a bit better position."


Statistics Canada's numbers show that 37,122 interprovincial migrants came to Alberta while 27,265 people left the province.

The net gain was composed primarily of Ontarians.

Tombe said those who arrived are younger — primarily in their mid-20s — which is beneficial for the economy as they are likely to produce more than they consume and pay taxes.

When we look at a strained rental market, however, the outlook gets more complicated.

"No question, when you have an increase in an area's population, then you're going to have an increase in demand for housing," Tombe said.

"We would expect this would manifest itself in the form of, if not higher rents, [then] lower vacancies, and a more competitive rental market. It also has implications for the price of homes."

With files from Hannah Kost and Dave Gilson