As long as Toronto: COVID-19 pandemic accelerates Canada’s urban emigration

People queue for their COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at a clinic inside the Metro Toronto Convention Center as the latest Omicron variant emerges as a threat, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on December 22, 2021. REUTERS / Cole Burston NO SALES. NO ARCHIVE

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OTTAWA, Jan. 13 (Reuters) – Canada’s urban exodus accelerated into the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which tens of thousands of people left Toronto and Montreal for smaller cities or rural areas, official data showed Thursday.

More than 64,000 people left Toronto for other parts of Ontario from mid-2020 to mid-2021, an increase of 14% over the previous 12-month period, according to Statistics Canada’s population estimate, with a further 6,600 moving out of the province.

Montreal, Canada’s second largest city, lost nearly 40,000 inhabitants to other areas of Quebec, an increase of 60% over the year, while a further 3,600 moved out of the province.

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in telework have caused tens of thousands of Canadians to flee large and expensive cities in search of more space and cheaper real estate in small centers, cottage towns and coastal areas.

This has contributed to a nationwide housing boom, where prices have risen more sharply in suburbs and small towns than in city centers, raising concerns that local people may be priced and putting pressure on municipal services. Read more

Nationwide, the typical home in Canada now costs C $ 780,400 ($ 624,870), an increase of 34%, or by almost C $ 200,000, since March 2020.

Atlantic Canada has done well in emigration. Halifax, Nova Scotia added more than 6,000 people a year until June 30, 2021, with the vast majority arriving from out of the province.

Rural Quebec has boomed and added more than 25,000 people from city centers in the predominantly French-speaking province.

The cities in the so-called Golden Horseshoe around Toronto are also experiencing strong influx. Oshawa added 8,000 people as residents poured out of Toronto, and both Hamilton and St. Catharines received nearly 5,000.

Immigration offset some of Toronto’s population losses.

($ 1 = 1.2489 Canadian dollars)

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Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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