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Canadian workers on the move: migration highest in almost 25 years

The number of Canadian workers migrating between provinces in search of jobs has hit its highest level in almost 25 years, according to a Bank of Montreal analysis.

Most are heading to Alberta and Saskatchewan, and leaving from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, the study shows.

The movement belies industry and federal government complaints about the lack of flexibility in the labour market.

The Harper government and industry has for years complained about labour shortages in specific regions and skills, with Ottawa introducing several measures, including tighter unemployment insurance rules, in an effort to force the jobless to go further afield.

But the BMO analysis suggests a near-record number of Canadians are already ready to pull up stakes to move to where the jobs are.

Inward migration to Alberta for instance has surged to more than 50,000 people during the past year, the highest on record, and representing 1.3 per cent of the province’s population.

Saskatchewan, formerly a loser in the inter-provincial migration sweepstakes, is now a major beneficiary, although not to the same level as its oil-rich neighbour.

Most other provinces are net losers but, proportionally, the drain is greatest in Atlantic Canada.

BMO says employment prospects is the major reason for the migration patterns.

Alberta and Saskatchewan have unemployment rates hovering around four per cent, in comparison to about 7.5 per cent in Quebec and Ontario, and around 10 per cent in Atlantic Canada.