The Great Brain Train

The national unemployment rate for Canada in August was 7.3%. Though it’s lower than the whopping 9.1% south of the border, it is still cause for concern, because the jobless rates vary widely between provinces within Canada. The highest rate of unemployment is in Newfoundland and Labrador, at 13.7%; the lowest, in Saskatchewan, is at 4.5% (with the rest of the provinces falling somewhere in between). That’s a difference of 9.2%, and people have been paying attention to it.

According to the data, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba are the places to be if you want a good chance of finding a job. These three Prairie Provinces are seeing greater immigration specifically for this reason. As their respective economies are booming and expected to grow at an even faster rate in the future, the provinces are quickly becoming home to Canadians from out of the province.

Not only that, but the provinces are also boasting stable housing prices and higher wages than anywhere else in Canada. What’s not to like? As countless Canadians have found, opportunities and benefits abound in these provinces, which is strong enough reason to migrate there. In fact, the main source of migrating job seekers turns out to be Ontario, and this makes sense. As a greater proportion of Canada’s population is in Toronto (a population that is highly educated and a city that has fierce competition for jobs), one can imagine that the city’s unemployed would be the first to strike out and move to a different province and a different city. This is not, of course, discounting the inhabitants of other Ontario cities, who certainly contribute to the Great Brain Train, as well.

And while it’s all well and good that the job opportunities are there for the taking, the provinces may not have the infrastructure necessary to handle a swell in their respective populations. Alberta, for instance, is on its way to beating a record last set in 2006 for the highest annual pace for net interprovincial migration. With larger (and growing) influxes of workers, however, must come a shift in the direction of institutional growth. The provinces will have to build new hospitals, schools, houses, and other such resources. They will also experience social pressures in addition to the institutional ones. The Prairies will just have to step up to the challenge; their economic future depends on it, as does the future of their denizens.

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Anibal L. Mora

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