The “Canadian dream” is over: the great escape has already begun

TORONTO – How things change: until a few years ago, everyone wanted to come to Canada, from every corner of the world. Today, many children and grandchildren of that “Canadian dream” flee. Tens of thousands of Canadians are emigrating to the United States: the number of people packing their bags and moving south has reached a level not seen in the past decade, according to the latest data from the American Community Survey (ACS) compiled by CBC who in an extensive report also gave voice to some of the Canadians disappointed by their country.  

According to data from the ACS, the number of people who moved from Canada to the United States reached 126,340 in 2022. This is an increase of almost 70% compared to the 75,752 people who moved in 2012. Of the 126,340 who emigrated from Canada to the United States that year, 53,311 were born in Canada, 42,595 are Americans who left Canada to return to their homeland, and 30,434 are immigrants born abroad and immigrated to Canada who then decided to move to the United States. The figure of Canadian-born people choosing to leave, in particular, is significantly higher now than in the past: that’s an increase of about 50% compared to the average number of Canadian-born Canadians who left for the United States in the pre-Covid period.

United Nations data compiled by Statistics Canada – and also published by CBC – shows that the United States is by far the most common destination for Canadian migrants. There were about 800,000 Canadians living in the United States in 2020 (see the graphic above, published by CBC), eight times more than the 100,000 living in the United Kingdom, according to the latest available United Nations data. Followed by Australia and New Zealand, France and Italy, with 25,202 Canadians (including, probably, also many Italian Canadians) who have chosen to go (or return?) to the “Bel Paese”.

Real estate agents and immigration lawyers who help Canadians relocate say the increase is driven in part by a desire for a more affordable life. But there are also people who say they have lost faith in Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s leadership and want to pursue the American dream. One of these, among the many interviewed by the CBC, is Marco Terminesi, a former professional footballer who grew up in Woodbridge, Ontario, who now works as a real estate agent in Palm Beach County in Florida and who has, among his clients, precisely… Canadian expats. “‘With Trudeau, I have to get out of here’ …that’s what people tell me” Terminesi told CBC. “Last year I received 50% more calls than in the last ten years. And almost everyone who calls tells me that politics is the reason they want to leave…”.

Then there is another factor: the economic one. The USA is less “expensive”. The average house price in the United States, for example, is lower than in Canada: up to 20% less. “Canada is not what it used to be” Monica Abramov told CBC: she lives in Innisfil, Ontario, north of Toronto, but in the next few months she will move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with her husband and three children. She is looking forward to buying a cheaper house and cheaper groceries. And she can’t wait to leave the Greater Toronto Area which is “going into decline.” But the healthcare system “is also a disappointment, with long waiting times in the emergency room and little access to family doctors”. And then “taxes are increasing (in Florida they are lower, ed.) and crime is a constant concern. I have never met so many people who are about to move or have already moved, especially in Florida”. The “Canadian dream” is over.