Ontarians on the Move, 2021 Edition. #5–20 Years Ago, Torontonians were moving to Peel and York. Now they’re moving to Barrie, Oshawa, Milton, St. Catharines, and London, making for much longer commutes.

Where are Ontarians moving to?

  • From 2002–11, York was consistently the biggest net destination for people moving from other parts of Ontario. By 2013, it no longer made the top five. Peel, which was 2nd in 2002, followed a similar trajectory.
  • Replacing them were Simcoe, Durham, and Halton, which are each farther away from downtown Toronto than York and Peel. Given that the within-province migration is often driven by young families looking for a place to live (which we’ll examine in a follow-up piece), this suggests that families are taking longer trips to “drive until you qualify”.
  • In the last few years, some of the destinations are quite far from the CN Tower, such as Middlesex, Waterloo, and Niagara. Some families “drive until you qualify” trips are getting quite long.
  1. It does not tell us where in the province these places are gaining residents, on net, from. Ottawa, for example, is likely not gaining Toronto families in search of affordable real estate. There is a different dataset that can shed some light on this, which we’ll examine in a follow-up piece.
  2. It also does not tell us where the individuals are working after they move. Are they taking jobs in Middlesex, or are they moving to Middlesex and still working somewhere else (and commuting?) Unfortunately, the best data on commuting is from the census, which is on a 5-year cycle. I am expecting that the next census release will show a substantial increase in the number of Ontarians who are taking hour-plus commutes to work.

Where are Ontarians moving from?

  • In #1 -The Big Picture, we saw that Ontario’s population growth started to speed up in 2015, and over the last five years, the province’s population grew by over one million residents.
  • In Piece 2, we learned that this population growth is not concentrated in Toronto. In fact, the five Census Districts growing the fastest are Waterloo, Peel, Simcoe, Middlesex, and Halton.
  • In Piece 3, Toronto vs. Not Toronto that this population growth is due to a big increase in non-permanent residents (international students, workers on visas, etc.) along with an increase in immigration.
  • In that piece, we also learned that while international migrants disproportionately settle in the Toronto area, this proportion has fallen in the past few years. (I suspect this is due to an influx of international students across the province; we will need to confirm this in a future piece).
  • We also saw that the intraprovincial migration out of Toronto started to increase in 2015, likely due to home building not being able to keep up with population growth.
  • In Piece 4, we saw that the people leaving Toronto (and Peel) due to a lack of housing were young families, who scattered across the province in search of homes they can afford. “Drive until you qualify”.
  • And in this piece, we saw that the landing places for Toronto families leaving in search of real-estate they can afford gets further and further away from the CN Tower each year.

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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.

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Mike Moffatt

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.

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