Cape Breton University
Move away from cities may have some unexpected side effectsMarch 24, 2022
It’s clear that the pandemic – which we all hope is entering its final phase – has made many Canadians rethink the idea of living in a big, crowded, city.
But, as people sell their condos and townhouses and move to larger living spaces in the nation’s smaller towns, cities, and rural areas, experts are predicting this mass migration may cause problems in the labour market.
According to a report by Julie Gordon of Reuters, published via Yahoo! News, “the pandemic-driven exodus… has depleted a core age group of workers from the already tight labour market.” This, her story explains, may drive up wages as companies struggle to replace these “missing” job seekers.
The folks leaving the cities are typically younger people with young children, the report notes. The exodus, she explains “has shifted mid-career workers – a key segment of the labour force – out of big cities, making it difficult to find established talent in sectors where in-person work is essential or preferred.”
The article notes that most people leaving are in their 30s and 40s – Vancouver saw 12,000 people leave the city in 2021, Montreal lost 40,000, and Toronto witnessed an eye-popping 64,000 people moving away.
It’s not just the pandemic that’s prompting people to pack up. The cost of housing is another huge factor. The average Toronto condo costs $1.2 million, while the average price for a detached house in the Ontario suburbs is “just” $800,000, the article notes.
A report in the Globe and Mail notes that nationwide, 3.8 million of us – or about one in 10 Canadians – are living in smaller urban centres.
Smaller centres are benefitting from the urban exodus, the article reports. Over in B.C., the city of Squamish has grown by an amazing 21.8 per cent in one year, and now has more than 24,000 new citizens. Other small centres experiencing big growth are the Ontario towns of Wasaga Beach, Tillsonburg, Collingwood and Woodstock.
“With the pandemic, the capacity of Canadians to do more (remote) work has certainly encouraged some Canadians to really move to these smaller urban centres and leave maybe larger urban centres,” states Laurent Martel of Statistics Canada in the Globe article.
A CTV News report says it’s not just affordability and a healthier, more open space that is attracting Canadians to rural areas.
“We’re seeing small cities, including small cities outside the orbit of large metropolitan areas showing some robust growth,” Tom Urbaniak, political science professor at Cape Breton University, states in the CTV report.
“This signals to me that Canadians are looking for some flexibility, places reputed for their quality of life and are finding it easier to work from different places.” In fact, the article adds, for the first time in more than 40 years, the Maritimes’ population grew at a faster clip than the Canadian Prairie Provinces.
Getting back to the land can breathe new life into smaller communities. Consider the wonderful efforts of Brad and Kendal Parker in restoring a 107-year-old farmhouse in rural Harris, Sask.
The CBC reports the Parkers left Saskatoon and took on the renovation of an old farmhouse that had been boarded up for 70 years. Descendants of the folks that originally built the house in 1915, the Parkers say, are thrilled the old place is getting a new lease on life.
“It’s really something. One of the grandchildren shared a painting with me of the original homestead,” Kendal Parker tells the CBC. “They tell me it’s so wonderful this house is coming back to life and to have children running around.”
Building a new home is great, and so is building a retirement future. The Saskatchewan Pension Plan can help with the latter goal. It’s a great resource for anyone who doesn’t have a retirement program at work – or does, but wants to augment it. You can contribute up to $7,000 a year towards your retirement future through SPP! Check them out today!
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Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.