Job seekers in Ontario are increasingly looking for work in other provinces, according to a new report by employment search website Indeed.
In the second half of 2022, 6.1 per cent of clicks made by Ontarians on Indeed’s Canadian job postings went to positions in other provinces. That’s an increase of 49 per cent from the second half of 2019, when only 4.1 per cent of clicks from the province went elsewhere in Canada.
The spike in outbound clicks began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and has only grown since then. Outmigration has also soared in recent years, with 83 per cent more Ontarians moving to other provinces in the first three quarters of 2022 compared to the same period in 2019, according to Statistics Canada.
The rise in interest in moving away evolved in two phases, Indeed senior economist Brendon Bernard said. The first was an initial reaction to the pandemic as the surge in remote work offered greater location flexibility. This was followed by a more gradual shift due to the escalating cost-of-living in central Canada.
“Ontario’s high cost of housing, only rivalled by B.C.’s, is probably pushing some residents elsewhere, especially when job opportunities are plentiful across the country,” Bernard said in the report. “Affordability challenges bite across the income spectrum and the share of clicks going outside Ontario has risen for jobs of varying wage levels.”
Ontarians’ clicks rose for all provinces in mid-2020, but was especially notable in job postings in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. Interest in these areas has remained at elevated levels since, but data shows that Alberta and Quebec are now more in focus. Alberta had the most clicks of any province made by Ontarians in the second half of 2022 (1.7 per cent), which nearly doubled its share from the same period in 2019 (0.9 per cent).
The report found that natural resource and science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) job seekers were the most likely to look outside the province. More than 10 per cent of clicks made by Ontarians on a range of Canadian STEM job postings were for jobs located elsewhere. The same was true for job postings in mining (17.7 per cent), aviation (17.6 per cent) and agriculture (13.4 per cent).
Part of the reason is because the wages offered for these occupations tend to be higher in certain provinces. That could explain why clicks on some engineering and manufacturing jobs in Alberta were especially elevated, while software development jobs in B.C. also received disproportionate attention. In both cases, wages were higher in their respective provinces than in Ontario, according to Statistics Canada.
The growth in out-of-province interest from Ontarians also substantially varied between remote and in-person occupations. Remote-friendly fields had the largest increase, as the share of clicks in sectors such as tech and marketing soared more than 75 per cent from pre-pandemic levels. More than a quarter of these job postings mentioned remote work in mid-2021.
On the other hand, the extent of these increases was more mixed for predominantly in-person sectors — apart from nursing — such as food services (14 per cent) and loading and stocking (16 per cent).
Bernard said the trend is expected to continue in the coming years.
“With fully remote work likely to represent a significant share of certain jobs in the years ahead, more workers will live in places far from the locations where jobs are posted than in years past,” he said. “This will expand both the number of job openings available to white collar job seekers across Canada, while also increasing the candidate pool for employers looking to fill these positions.”