Government data shows that more people left Canada permanently in the last quarter of 2021 than in any year since the 1970s.

According to Statistics Canada estimates, emigration out of the country was up throughout 2021, with a sharp increase at the end of the year. The largest spike in people abandoning Canada was in the fourth quarter, which correlated with the implementation of the Trudeau government’s vaccine mandate for travel. 

During that quarter, emigration was up 215% from the year prior, with an estimated 16,901 people moving out of Canada – the highest it has been since 1974. 

The exodus persisted throughout the year, with a total of 55,935 residents leaving the country. Emigration trends were also up 55.7% when compared to the five-year median before 2020.

According to the real estate brokerage service Soldplicity, structural issues such as expensive housing or a lack of economic opportunity could also explain the outflow. 

Under the Trudeau government, the cost of housing has increased over 100% since the Liberals were first elected under his leadership in 2015. 

Six years ago, the average cost of a Canadian home was $430,000, while in 2022 it had skyrocketed to $869,000. 

In a Nov. 2021 paper by the Macdonald Laurier Institute, researchers noted how Trudeau had campaigned many times on making housing more affordable without delivering on his promises. 

“The fast-escalating prices under the first and second tenures of the Liberal government have been extensively debated and presented as evidence of weak stewardship on housing,” wrote report authors Murtaza Haider and Stephen Moranis. 

On top of that, inflation in Canada has not been this high for over 30 years

A recent analysis by Scotiabank also showed that more people left Ontario for other provinces than in any year since 1981.

“Pandemic restriction severity, housing affordability, and telework adoption all appear to have influenced the trend—in contrast to past periods of strong out-migration that mirrored starker differences in regional economic conditions,” said Scotiabank senior economist Marc Desormeaux in the paper published on Mar. 17.

Ontario experienced the longest lockdowns anywhere in North America throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing a fourth lockdown in January over large case counts stemming from the Omicron variant.

This article’s headline and opening paragraph were corrected on Mar. 30. An earlier version reported that 2021 had seen more people leave Canada in 2021 than in any year since the 1970s. The revisions reflect that this was true of the fourth quarter of 2021.

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