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First since 1971: Québec records net increase in anglophones from other provinces

The census also recorded Québec’s lowest net loss of residents to other Canadian provinces over the span of those same five years.
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Québec saw an increase of 2,645 people coming from other provinces whose mother tongue is English between 2016 and 2021 – a net gain that hasn’t been seen in the province in more than 50 years.

That’s according to recent census data published by Statistics Canada.

The census also recorded Québec’s lowest net loss of residents to other Canadian provinces over the span of those same five years.

While not a very big increase, the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Association for Canadian Studies says it’s symbolic.

“I think it represents something positive in terms of the extent to which anglophones, despite the political unpleasantry that we see here on occasion, seem to be willing to stay here moreso than leave,” said Jack Jedwab.

Jedwab explains the increase in anglophone immigration in Québec by looking at the economy and cost of living.

“When you’re studying migratory movements, economic factors tend to drive decision making,” he said. “The economy has been reasonably good over the course of the pandemic relative to other economies. So when you consider that, as well as the cost of living, notably housing, which is a significant challenge for a lot of people, we can see why here in Montreal in particular, it may be more attractive.”

That economic priority won’t be altered by political frustrations, said Jedwab, referring to the province’s controversial legislation Bill 21, which prevents some civil servants from wearing religious symbols at work.

“Probably people are weighing the effect to which it affects their lives directly as opposed to bothering them more generally,” he said. “I think weighing that against economic considerations, probably it’s those that end up being more important in decision making around migration.”

Jedwab says the same goes for Québec’s language law reform Bill 96.

But he believes it’s too early to know what the effects of the new bill will look like for this new wave of anglophone immigrants.

“Let’s keep in mind that the census was taken in May 2021,” said Jedwab. “So we didn’t have Bill 96 at that particular time. So, we’ll have to see what the effects of Bill 96 are at that particular point. We didn’t see much change other than a lot of rhetoric and sort of political noise about changes to language legislation.”

What he explains is usually a top destination for people leaving Québec, has considerably changed given the rising cost of living.

“Coming here from Ontario, which is the principal source of anglophones heading to this province, will probably seem more attractive given the cost of living, cost of housing and so forth, relative to what it costs in Ontario these days and has over the past few years.”

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