The Exodus out of Ontario

Mike Moffatt
4 min readSep 29, 2022


As always, here is the TL;DR:

TL; DR New data from Statistics Canada shows what we all suspected was true — Ontarians are leaving the province in record numbers in search of housing they can afford and meets the needs of their families.

Yesterday was a big day for number nerds like me. Statistics Canada released their Canada’s population estimates, second quarter 2022, which showed that in the last 3 months the country added more people than they had since Newfoundland joined Canada. Let’s dive into the numbers for Ontario, separating out inflows (new arrivals to Ontario) from outflows (those leaving the province).

Ontario: Population Inflows

We can divide the inflow data into four categories:

  • Births
  • Incoming from other provinces (This is a gross, not net figure)
  • Immigrants (Non-Canadians who have gained permanent residency)
  • Net non-permanent (Non-Canadians who are here on a time-limited basis. These are mostly international students but also include temporary workers, refugees from Ukraine, etc. “Non-permanent” is a bit of a misnomer, as many of these individuals will eventually obtain permanent residency and shift into the “immigrant” category).

Here are the numbers for Q2 (April, May, and June) of 2022, relative to Q2s from past years.

Net non-permanent numbers are up sharply, and immigration is up somewhat. Much of this is a rebound effect from the pandemic. If we compare the past 3 years (which contains all of the pandemic) to the previous 3 years, the change in the number of new immigrants and non-permanent residents is not nearly as stark.

We should keep in mind that many of those in the immigrant category were already in Ontario prior to obtaining the classification. I suspect one reason that immigration growth numbers are up and net non-permanent growth numbers are down is simply that many non-permanent residents have obtained permanent residency. Whenever an individual does this, the population of immigrants increases by 1, and the population of non-permanent residents decreases by 1, but the overall population is unchanged.

If we combine immigrants and net non-permanent residents into a single international category, we see that there has been little difference between 2019–22 and 2016–19. The number of international arrivals is up slightly, and both births and incoming from other provinces are down slightly.

In fact, adding all 3 together and there’s been almost no change to net inflows of population over the past 3 years.

Ontario: Population Outflows

Next, let’s divide the outflow data into four categories:

  • Deaths
  • Emigrants (Non-Canadians who have moved to another country. This counts both temporary and permanent moves. We also add back in any Canadians that have moved back)
  • Outgoing to other provinces (This is a gross, not net figure)

Comparing Q2s across years, we see that population outflows from Ontario to other provinces are up substantially, and deaths are up somewhat. Emigration from Ontario is relatively minimal; we do not appear to be experiencing much brain drain to other countries.

As before, we can compare the past 3 years to the 3 years prior. The same phenomenon holds — there is substantial and increased outmigration from Ontario to other provinces.

Unlike gross total inflows, which are effectively unchanged over the past 3 years, outflows are up by over 110,000 persons in the last 3 years:

Let’s return to our “outgoing to other provinces” category. Where are they moving to? Fortunately, there’s data on that. Here are the numbers for the past 3 years, relative to the 3 years prior:

In short, all destinations are up, but “out east” is absolutely surging.



Mike Moffatt

Senior Director, Smart Prosperity. Assistant Prof, Ivey Business School. Exhausted but happy Dad of 2 wonderful kids with autism. I used to do other stuff.