Ontario job seekers increasingly looking for work in other provinces: Indeed

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Ontario job seekers are increasingly looking for work in other provinces, especially positions in remote-friendly sectors like tech, said a new report from Indeed.

In the second half of 2022, 6.1 per cent of clicks on Canadian job postings by Ontario-based job seekers were for positions in other provinces, according to the job search company.

That’s an almost 50 per cent increase from the second half of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the labour market.

While interest in moving to British Columbia and Nova Scotia spiked at the beginning of the pandemic, Alberta has led growth in clicks from Ontario job seekers ever since, said Indeed.

Indeed senior economist Brendon Bernard said while jobs in natural resources have historically driven people to move to Alberta and Saskatchewan and continue to see higher shares of out-of-province clicks from job seekers, the jobs driving significant growth in outbound interest from Ontario are remote-friendly white-collar jobs like tech and marketing.

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This trend shows not only a rising interest in moving outside of Ontario, which is also reflected in Statistics Canada migration data, but it also highlights the pandemic’s effect on remote work, expanding the geographic scope of white-collar job searches, said Indeed.

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Statistics Canada data shows a significant uptick in people leaving Ontario for other provinces last year. During the first three quarters of 2022, 83 per cent more people moved from Ontario to another province than during the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

This shift is likely in part due to the rising cost of living, Indeed said, as well as more flexibility around remote work due to the pandemic.

While there are many reasons someone might decide to move to another province, some are more obvious than others, said Bernard.

“Ontario’s affordability challenges, especially in the GTA, are pretty well known,” he said.

Indeed’s report helps shed light on some of the other reasons that might drive someone to leave the province, such as a remote-flexible job, said Bernard.

The trends in job seeker clicks indicate this uptick in interprovincial migration could continue, Indeed said. However, Bernard noted that with the rise in remote work, some Ontarians may be clicking on out-of-province jobs with no intention of leaving the province.

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Regardless, he said as long as costs remaining elevated and more employers are offering remote work, migration out of Ontario is likely to stay higher than it used to be.

Alberta has been trying to attract more people to the province with ads in the most expensive cities in Canada, like Toronto, pitching affordability and jobs. And with the cost of living soaring, Ontarians may be sold on significantly lower house prices in the prairie province.

Indeed said Ontarians looking for higher-wage jobs are more likely to click on out-of-province postings, with the highest share clicking on mining, aviation, software development and industrial engineering jobs.

Meanwhile, lower-paying (and less remote-friendly) jobs in sectors like retail, veterinary services, pharmacy and food preparation and service saw a much smaller share of those clicks, the report found.

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