Nov 22, 2011 – 12:11 PM ET | Last Updated: Nov 22, 2011 12:19 PM ET
Things have picked up a bit since then
The transformation of Ontario into a complete waste of time appears to be almost complete. Under the guiding hand of Premier Dalton McGuinty, the province has been reduced to have-not status, the manufacturing base has eroded, Ottawa has been strong-armed into financing a regional development office, unemployment is 8.1% (above the national average and getting worse) and the best solution the government can come up with is a plan to pour money into alternative energy in hopes of jobs (along with about 32 other countries and jurisdictions hoping to do the same thing.)
Along comes Citizenship and Immigration Canada to reveal that Ontario’s reputation has fallen to the point that immigrants are bypassing it as they head west to provinces with better prospects.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada earlier this month reveal that the province experienced a drop in new settlers to 118,114 in 2010, from 148,640 immigrants in 2001.Toronto, a traditional immigration magnet, saw 92,185 new immigrants in 2010, down from 125,169 in 2001.Meanwhile, the number of newcomers settling in Manitoba increased to 15,809 in 2010 from 4,591 in 2001; Saskatchewan saw an increase to 7,615 from 1,704; and Alberta saw 32,642 new faces, up from 16,404 a decade earlier.All provinces and territories except Ontario saw gradual increases, but the prairies experienced the biggest spike during the past decade.
The CBC noted that a decade ago, half of new immigrants went to Toronto alone, and 60% to Ontario as a whole. Last year, just 42% of newcomers figured Ontario was the best place to settle.
On the same day, a report from the Fraser Institute put Alberta in top spot as the “most economically free” jurisdiction in North America. In three key areas — size of government, taxation, and overall attractiveness, Ontario placed in the middle of the pack, behind Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland. All three enjoy resource-based economies with which Ontario can’t compete. Though it once dominated the Canadian economy thanks to its manufacturing base, the failure to find a replacement for it has left the province leaking influence and political clout to more prosperous provinces.
The McGuinty government has promised to remedy some of the debt and budget problems afflicting the economy by abandoning its eight-year spending binge, and limiting spending growth to 1% a year. That could mean cuts of up to a third in some areas, it warns.
Maybe that will turn the situation around. The government isn’t promising a balanced budget for another six years, though. Until then new Canadians and old Canadians alike may find better prospects somewhere else.