Could Alberta Show the First Signs of a “Brain Drain”?


CALGARY – New data shows Alberta is showing signs of losing the advantage of attracting new residents from other provinces and from overseas – a sign of net migration loss – with most heading to Colombia -British. The Province’s Annual Population Report – Alberta 2019-2020 found that Alberta lost 2,733 people to other provinces between April and June of this year “heavily influenced by economic conditions in the province and, as the economy cooled, the province was experiencing net outflows ”It said.

When the number of exits from British Columbia is subtracted from the number of entries from Alberta to the Western Province from July 2019 to June 2020, the total net migration loss is 5,291 people who packed and headed further west.

Other data shows an outflow to the Maritimes and Ontario, but at much lower numbers than those moving to British Columbia


Alberta’s official population is now 4,421,876, or 60,182 new residents compared to the 2019 mid-year population, which translates into annual growth of 1.38%.

Compared to other provinces and territories, Alberta’s growth rate remains among the top five in the country, but some experts say this could be the first signs of a “brain drain.”

“Brain drain is a phrase we’ve used for many years, and the loss of some of our most highly skilled people in the tech industries is certainly concerning,” said Kevin McQuillan, academic director of fiscal and economic policy . at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.


“My life is busy and I’m heading to British Columbia,” Jess Leblanc told CTV News Friday as her friend drove her vehicle west on the Trans-Canada Highway to Ucluelet.

“The vibe and the energy (in Calgary) is so fierce and competitive and people just aren’t used to living on less,” she says.

Entrepreneur, life coach and yoga instructor who also offers adventure travel programs, she said she was hit hard by the border closure amid the 2019 pandemic.

Additionally, after living in Calgary for over six years, she quickly felt that the mood was no longer aligned for her in southern Alberta.

“I don’t think I can be my most creative self,” she said, “in this somewhat stifled and fearful environment”.


Dr. Amy Tan, a palliative care physician and professor of family medicine at the University of Calgary, also spoke to CTV News amidst the cartons and related affairs in Calgary.

His family travels to Victoria, British Columbia. She said the political climate in Alberta was a major factor in her decision.

“With all the added stress and uncertainty that a pandemic gives us all, I had no hope that (things) would get better under more normal circumstances in the future,” Tan said.

She also spoke of tensions between Alberta government leaders, including Health Minister Tyler Shandro and the Alberta Medical Association, over the lack of negotiation over physician compensation.

In addition, her school-aged son is a visible minority and felt that the committee reviewing Alberta’s education program would not adequately incorporate lessons on racial discrimination or truth and reconciliation with the indigenous peoples of Canada.

“It’s one thing to affect my career and my daily stress level,” Tan said. “It’s another to affect our child’s future.”

Despite examples of professionals moving to B.C. for better opportunities and a better environment, McQuillan adds that it may be too early to know whether migration to B.C. affects people of working age or retirees.

He adds that interprovincial migration trends in Alberta have followed cycles of boom and bust over the years.

“Once upon a time, when there were plenty of jobs in the province, people from other parts of the country would turn to Alberta to make a fortune,” he said.

“The call,” he added, “just isn’t there like it used to be. “


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