An emigration non-story

Photo by Nicholas Santoianni / Unsplash

Yesterday, Ezra Levant dropped what has become the latest talking point of COVID denial Twitter:

Ezra Levant tweet reading: "Largest number of people leaving Canada in 50 years. No wonder Trudeau has made it illegal for unvaccinated people to fly -- it's his Berlin Wall."

But is it true?

Let's take another look at the Statistics Canada data accompanying this story.

Plot showing yearly emigration from Canada, from 1970 to 2021

Above, we plot the total number of emigrants in each year, rather than plotting emigration only from the fourth quarter of each year, as the original article did.

So in reality, the number of emigrants from Canada is the highest its been since...2016.

In fairness, the original Better Dwelling post makes this clear in the body of the article, in spite of the attention-grabbing headline. But who reads past the headline?

Plot showing quarterly emigration from Canada, from 2017 to 2021

Is it possible that some of the rise in emigration in 2021 was due to pent-up demand from the first year of the pandemic? (In Q2, the country recorded only 132 emigrants, by far the lowest quarter on record. The second and third lowest were Q3 2020 and Q4 2020, respectively.)

Additionally, we might observe that Canada's population has grown by 80% in the past 50 years, making comparisons to historical levels of emigration even less impressive.

It's too bad this subject has been so hideously distorted by the likes of Ezra Levant and other pandemic grifters, because the underlying concern is sound and perhaps the most crucial conversation politicians at all levels should be having.

The price of housing in Canada has caused the cost of living to spiral out of control and has put the middle-class dream of homeownership out of reach for a majority of younger citizens. At what point do young people—just starting families or wanting to—leave for another place where they have a shot of having the life trajectory their parents did?

As always, the data and code used in this post is available on GitHub.

Jean-Paul R. Soucy

Jean-Paul R. Soucy