Ontarians on the Move #1 — Toronto

PREVIOUS ENTRY: Ontarians on the Move #0.5 — It’s Kids, not Seniors, on the Move.

Part 1 in what I hope will be a lengthy series.

TL;DR version: The city of Toronto is growing in population, but shrinking in the number of kids, as families are getting pushed out of the city, looking for affordable housing. This is changing the very nature of the province, and will have far-reaching consequences.

On February 13, 2020, Statistics Canada released Canada’s population estimates: Subprovincial areas, July 1, 2019. There’s a treasure trove of great data here for Canadian metro areas (CMAs/CAs), economic regions and census divisions. Full set of tables here.

I thought I’d start this series by looking at the Toronto census division, which exactly corresponds to the city of Toronto.

Between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019, the population of the city grew from 2,919,971 to 2,965,713 persons — an increase of 45,742.

For this series, we’ll break population change into seven different components:

  1. Births
  2. Deaths
  3. Immigration (from other countries)
  4. Net non-permanent residents (people from abroad locating to a place temporarily, such as students or temporary foreign workers. Naturally, a portion of these will one day become permanent residents.)
  5. Emigration (to other countries)
  6. Net interprovincial migration (people moving to Toronto from other provinces minus people moving from Toronto to other provinces)
  7. Net intraprovincial migration (people moving to Toronto from other parts of Ontario minus people moving from Toronto to other parts of the province)

Here’s the breakdown for Toronto.

Toronto is still experiencing robust “natural” population growth; this isn’t the case for most of Canada. But the majority of the net population increase (33,588 of 45,742) came from migration.

Breaking migration down by age yields some very interesting results. First, here is the international migration to/from Toronto by age:

Not surprisingly, the “net non-permanent” numbers are driven by college-aged people moving to the Toronto area. There’s a big spike of the number of immigrants after the net-non permanent numbers drop-off. I’m curious what proportion of that is driven by people transitioning from being non-permanent residents to permanent immigrants.

And here’s the numbers for within Canada migration:

There’s this idea out that the outmigration from Toronto is caused by “boomers cashing out their properties and moving to Muskoka”. Naturally, that does happen, but the above graph should make it absolutely crystal clear, that within-Ontario migration to/from Toronto is driven by two things:

  1. Young adults moving to Toronto to attend higher-ed.
  2. Young families (kids under the age of 16, people in their 30s) moving out of Toronto in order to find housing they can afford.

How far are families moving to find real-estate? Turns out, really quite far! But we’ll leave that for future pieces.

If we put all of the migration together, here’s what we get:

Toronto is gaining all kinds of talented people in their 20s — that’s a very good thing! But, sadly, it’s increasingly becoming a place devoid of kids.

NEXT IN THE SERIES: Ontarians on the Move #2— York.

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.