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Lack of Diversity Driving Youth Out of Alberta, Report Finds

Many Alberta youth view their home province as backward-looking and intolerant of diversity, and are leaving in droves in search of more progressive communities, says a new report by the Canada West Foundation.

Where Alberta was once a beacon for out-of-province young people seeking work, the direction of travel has since reversed, writes CBC News.

For decades, Alberta saw younger people moving to the province, often lured by the big money to be earned in the oil and gas sector, reports CBC. Then in 2016, the trend reversed, and “for the first time since 1988, more people between the ages of 15 and 29 moved out of the province than moved in.” 

The Canada West Foundation found that while young people once came to Alberta becauseof the oil and gas sector, they now actively steer clear of what they see as an economy and society lacking in diversity. “Youth inside and outside of Alberta have perceptions of the province that do not reflect current realities,” writes CWF.

Report co-author Janet Lane told CBC that Calgarians are particularly keen to leave the province.

The CWF report, which also polled young people in Vancouver and Toronto, found that while careers remain an important consideration for young people looking to relocate, quality of life issues like access to public transit and proximity to experiences clearly matter a great deal.

To retain young Albertans, and to attract 24-to-29 and 30-to-34-year-olds from elsewhere, the report recommends that the province make a better case for the diversity of Alberta’s job opportunities. It also recommended that municipalities work actively to implement progressive policies, and to continue community revitalization efforts. [Those missions might be easier to achieve if the provincial government had a serious interest in fostering any industry but fossil fuels, and if rural municipalities could count on the revenue they would receive if fossil companies paid their taxes—Ed.]