Immigration to British Columbia is allowing it to grow its population despite a record-breaking net outflow of residents from that westernmost province to other parts of Canada, says provincial Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon.

“People are coming. They see opportunity here. It’s vitally important that we have the infrastructure, the housing, the healthcare, the schools, to support that type of growth,” Kahlon said recently.

The latest data from Statistics Canada show net interprovincial migration to British Columbia, the difference between the number of people who moved there from other parts of Canada and the number of people who left British Columbia to live elsewhere in the country, spiked last year.

The latest population estimates for the third quarter of 2023 show British Columbia lost 17,186 people to other provinces and territories and gained only 12,552 people from the rest of the country for a net loss of 4,634 residents.

The bulk of those who left British Columbia for other parts of Canada moved to Alberta. In the third quarter of 2023, a whopping 9,589 people moved from British Columbia to Alberta and another 3,988 moved to Ontario.

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That’s a reversal of the longstanding trend where for many years people flocked to British Columbia from other parts of the country.

Despite that downturn in net interprovincial migration to British Columbia, the province’s population grew by 52,367 people, or just under one per cent, in the third quarter of 2023 to hit 5,519,013, up from 5,466,646 in the second quarter of the year.

The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals British Columbia welcomed 13,750 new permanent residents during the third quarter of 2023. Its population of temporary residents grew by 30,307 people to hit 400,964.

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During the third quarter of 2023, British Columbia welcomed 34,875 workers through the International Mobility Program (IMP) and 10,830 workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). It also saw the issuance of 50,545 study permits to international students.

With its rapidly growing population, many people have claimed that British Columbia’s openness to immigrants and temporary residents is driving up housing costs to the point of making homes unaffordable for many people. BC needs to increase 25 per cent above their historical average level for the next five years to a record level of about 43,000 completions per year,

BCREA Wants Province To Do More To Stimulate Construction Of More Housing

Brendon Ogmundson, chief economist of the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA), has said the province needs to increase the number of homes it builds by 25 per cent above the historical average level for the next five years to a record level of about 43,000 completions per year to prevent housing from becoming even less affordable.

“To ease the pressure on the housing market that arises from sudden changes in housing demand, governments can take steps to increase housing supply,” said the economist. 

“This can include zoning changes to allow for more housing construction, increasing funding for affordable housing programs, and providing incentives for developers to build more housing units.”

The BCREA estimates the province will welcome 217,500 new permanent residents from 2023 to 2025 or 100,500 more new permanent residents than would be expected based on historical average immigration levels. The real estate association maintains this will lead to a 20,500-unit increase in housing demand from new permanent residents.

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