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Quebec lost 600,000 residents to other provinces since 1971: Fraser report

Members of the the crowd watch the annual St-Jean-Baptiste Day parade in Montreal, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. new report by a right-of-centre think-tank says Quebec has lost almost 600,000 residents to other provinces since 1971 - the highest out-migration rate in the country.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
June 29, 2016 - 7:00 AM

MONTREAL - The number of Quebecers who left for other provinces between 1971 and 2015 was almost 600,000 higher than the number of Canadians who came to Quebec during that period, says the Fraser Institute.

That constitutes the highest out-migration total in the country, according to research from the right-of-centre think-tank.

Moreover, Quebec is the only province in Canada to have suffered a net loss in interprovincial migration every year during that time, the organization said in a report released Tuesday.

Yanick Labrie, a senior fellow who co-authored the report, says Quebec's economic strategy has not been a success.

"The so-called Quebec model might be a failure based on the statistics we've gathered," said Labrie, who also works as a public policy consultant in Montreal.

Regardless of the trend, Quebec's population grew to 8.3 million from 6.1 million over the 34 years.

The biggest one-year net loss was for the 12 months between July 1, 1977, and June 30, 1978 — in the aftermath of the Parti Quebecois election victory in November 1976 — when 46,429 more people emigrated than migrated to the province.

"(Canadians) just don't want to come to Quebec and the province's model is not being replicated in other jurisdictions," Labrie said. "It's definitely not a success story."

Labrie says a high tax burden and public debt as well as plenty of red tape for entrepreneurs make Quebec a less attractive place to start a business or a career compared to other provinces.

Quebec's sales tax is 9.975 per cent, second only to Nova Scotia's, which stands at 10 per cent.

The province has a tax rate of eight per cent for small businesses, which is almost double the second-highest rate of 4.5 per cent in Ontario and Prince Edward Island. In Alberta, the rate is three per cent, while it clocks in at 2.5 per cent in British Columbia.

Additionally, Quebec has some of the highest income tax rates in North America. For the first $42,000 earned, Quebec taxes at 16 per cent; in Ontario, the rate is 5.05 per cent.

And while politicians often point to Quebec's generous services as a reason for its comparatively high taxes, the Fraser Institute's report indicates the province is losing many young people who have benefited from the public system.

More than two-thirds of residents who left the province between 1971 and 2015 were aged 20 to 44.

Labrie says Quebec pays entirely for or highly subsidizes the education and health care of its residents only to see many of them leave for other provinces, mostly Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

Quebec's statistics institute shows similar figures for interprovincial migration but it says the province makes up for lost Canadian residents with foreign ones.

"Generally, the gains associated with international migration are more than sufficient to compensate for the losses of interprovincial migration," says the institute's most recent demographic report.

In 2014, Quebec had a net gain of 31,600 people, it said, adding that 80 per cent of the immigrants who moved to Quebec in 2013 were still in the province two years later.

Quebec isn't the only province suffering from losses due to interprovincial migration.

Since 2003, Ontario's net loss compared to Quebec's has been higher than 40,000.

Most of them have gone to Alberta and British Columbia.

Labrie attributes Ontario's recent losses to its economy, which has suffered compared to those of the western provinces.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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