Pandemic migration out of Toronto is sending people west and east and into Niagara and Oshawa

By Glenn Hendry

Published on November 3, 2022 at 09:41

Downtown Oshawa

Go west young man (and woman), they said, and that adage still holds some truth, especially during a pandemic.

Nearly 89,000 people left Ontario in the first year of the pandemic, according to Statistics Canada, more than two-thirds of whom headed west to Vancouver, Calgary, Victoria and Kelowna. Vancouver, despite the ridiculously high cost of housing, was clearly No. 1, welcoming almost 38,000 newcomers during this period.

But aside from an influx of migrants into Halifax (nearly 8,800 moved there, including some of the 23,000 new residents in Nova Scotia), not everyone left Ontario. However, they left Toronto in droves, with Canada’s largest metropolis being the only major city to actually lose population between 2020 and 2021.

Other Ontario centers have reaped the rewards of migration out of Toronto. With the pandemic forcing many people to work from home, some saw an opportunity to move to cities with more affordable housing.

London gained 8,980 people that year, St. Catharines-Niagara gained 8,380 new residents, the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge region welcomed 6,890 newcomers, and Oshawa gained 6,540 people.

Downtown St. Catharines

Ottawa also saw a large increase in population, with an increase of 14,835 residents second only to Vancouver.

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