Canadians Voting With Their Feet As Emigration Surges & More New Canadians Think Of Leaving

History shows that a growing centralization of power and economic decline can accelerate emigration. Canada is witnessing both.

In democracies, we tend to think of elections as the most profound statement we make as Citizens when it comes to the direction of the nation.

And while that is largely true, there is another way people send a message about the policies of those in power:

By leaving.

And when we look around the world, we can see that inflows and outflows of people from a country are based on two main factors:

First, there is the immigration policy of a country.

Second is the level of freedom and potential economic prosperity within a country.

For example, while the United States receives a large number of immigrants (both legal and illegal) every year, that number would be far higher if the US government set a higher threshold, since there is high demand among people around the world to be in America.

Similarly, many people try to leave parts of Africa and the Middle East in order to get to Europe, where standards of living are much higher, and human rights/property rights are more protected.

Most dramatically, we can see people fleeing in Ukraine in order to escape war, and to avoid being put under the governance of the authoritarian Russian government.

When given the option, people flee to where they can be free and where their chance to gain prosperity is higher.

Immigration brings many positives, as countries like Canada and the United States have learned. Of course, no country can let in an unlimited amount of people, and there are downsides when immigration levels exceed the capacity of a country to manage, leading to both economic difficulty and division.

That said, the fact that there is such high demand for the ability to live in this country is a complement to the kind of nation we’ve built over Canada’s history.

When people ‘vote with their feet’ by leaving one country for another, it says a lot about both nations.

And it’s why some recent trends in Canada are cause for significant concern.

Two recent stories by Better Dwelling delve into the statistics to reveal that emigration in Q4 of 2021 reached levels not seen since the 1970s, and that a rising number of new Canadians are considering leaving this country.

Q4 emigration

For 2021, emigration reached the highest level since 2016. However, as noted by Better Dwelling, the highlight number is emigration in the 4th quarter of 2022:

“Canadians are packing up and leaving at a fast rate, during a traditionally slow period. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data shows emigration, the act of leaving permanently, jumped in 2021. The past year showed modest gains, rising to the highest level in half a decade. The fourth quarter is what sticks out though, showing a sudden acceleration. Canada saw the largest Q4 volumes of residents leaving since the 1970s.

Canadians left the country at a swift pace in a quarter they usually don’t plan a move. Stat Can estimates 16,901 emigrants in Q4 2021, up 215% from a year before. Annual growth doesn’t mean much, due to the outbreak’s base-effect. Don’t let the distortion allow you to dismiss the whole trend though.

Looking at the longer term, this was a huge fourth quarter. The Q4 2021 emigration was still 55.7% higher than the 5-year median for the quarter prior to 2020. It also happens to be the biggest Q4 for people leaving since 1974.”

In addition to those who have already left, many are considering leaving:

Recent immigrants considering emigration

As Better Dwelling notes, “Canada’s general population underestimates the impact high living costs have on immigration. Less than a third (31%) feel a high cost of living would prevent immigrants from staying in Canada. New Canadians feel very different, with the majority (64%) feeling a high cost of living is an issue. A bit at odds with the investment thesis on immigration maintaining high levels, despite the cost of living.”

Many are now considering leaving:

“A lot of new Canadians are considering leaving the country within two years. The survey found 22% of new Canadians are considering leaving within two years. Another 21% were neutral, and undecided on how they currently feel. The remaining 57% said it was unlikely they’ll move. A majority is unlikely to move, but this is still a significant outflow. If those immigrating to Canada face similar issues driving people to leave, eventually immigrants just move to wherever those leaving head. 

“Canada is a nation of immigrants — and one of the stories we tell ourselves is that we are welcoming to new immigrants, wherever they may be from,” says ICC CEO Daniel Bernhard. “But while this may be generally true, new survey data points to the fact that many new Canadians are having a crisis of confidence in Canada — and that should be ringing alarm bells all over Ottawa.””

Creeping authoritarianism & economic stagnation

So, what has changed in this country that is driving more people to consider leaving?

Given that a desire for freedom and economic progress are the driving force behind many who seek to come live here, it stands to reason that when those things start to erode there will be an increase in those who want to leave.

And when we look at the policies of the Liberal government, we can see how the state is becoming larger and more powerful, while our economy stagnates.

During the pandemic, the Liberal government imposed some of the more draconian measures seen in ‘free nations,’ and even now continues to impose restrictions on unvaccinated individuals.

Legislation like Bill C-11 would expand the control of government over the internet, and shows the ongoing hostility of the Trudeau government to free and open debate.

Combine that with an economic policy that is based on tax increases, inflationary measures, increased regulations, and mentality hostile to business, and it’s no surprise that Canada no longer feels as free and prosperous as it once did.

Another issue facing Canada is that due to our weather we have to offer something more, when compared to countries like the United States or Australia.

Canada can be a beacon of hope and opportunity to many around the world, but only if we are a country that respects individual rights and freedoms, limits the power of government, and frees people to innovate, create, build businesses, and achieve their dreams.

Clearly, that’s not the course our nation is on right now, and unless that changes we can expect more and more people to seek their future elsewhere.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – YouTube

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