The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

November 18, 2014 06:15 ET

The Fraser Institute: Media Release; Alberta and Saskatchewan Offer More Opportunity for Young Canadians than Ontario and Quebec

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Nov. 18, 2014) - Alberta and Saskatchewan offer the most opportunity for young Canadians while Ontario and Quebec mimic the economic malaise of Atlantic Canada, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

"Western Canada is the land of opportunity while Ontario and Quebec, the two most populous provinces, now resemble Atlantic Canada with its gloomy economic outlook and relatively poor prospects for young people," said Mark Milke, study author and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

The study, Go West, Young Adults: The 10-Year Western Boom in Investment, Jobs and Incomes, compares all 10 provinces based on several economic indicators including employment rates, income levels, private sector investment and population patterns to determine the levels of opportunity (including employment and the prospects for at least a middle-class income) for young adults.

Between 2003 and 2012, on a net basis, Alberta welcomed 60,855 career-age young adults (aged 25-34) from other parts of the country, by far the highest number among the provinces, followed by British Columbia (10,643) and Saskatchewan (581).

Meanwhile, during that same 10-year period, every other province lost young adults. Ontario lost 27,451 young adults while Quebec lost 24,355.

"The statistics clearly show a steady exodus of young Canadians from provinces in Central and Eastern Canada to the greener pastures of the West," Milke said.

Jobs are the main reason for the western migration. From 2004 to 2013, the average annual unemployment rates among 25-34 year olds in Alberta (4.2 per cent) and Saskatchewan (4.8 per cent) dwarfed the rates in Quebec (7.3 per cent) and Ontario (7.1 per cent). Ontario also has the highest chronic unemployment rates in Canada-worse than Newfoundland and Labrador.

Moreover, Alberta's average per person income in 2012 (the latest statistical year available) was $52,207, far higher than Ontario ($40,838) and Quebec ($37,106).

Alberta also leads all provinces in private sector investment, a key driver of employment growth. In 2012, private sector investment in Alberta totalled $60.5 billion, compared to Ontario ($43.1 billion) and Quebec ($25.7 billion).

"Clearly, where there's more private sector investment there are more jobs and greater opportunities for young Canadians to enjoy a middle-class lifestyle," Milke said.

However, at least one eastern province shows signs of hope. According to the study, Newfoundland and Labrador has improved in a number of economic categories including private sector investment, per-capita income and weekly wage rates. But the West still rules.

"Today, any young Canadian seeking economic opportunity-a full-time job and the possibility of a middle-income salary or better-has a much better shot in Western Canada," Milke said.

"Ontario and Quebec are not providing opportunities for young adults and have been losing their best and brightest to the dynamic, opportunity-rich economies of Western Canada."

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

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