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Starting in 2020, Ontario began to see an exodus of people moving to other parts of Canada. That trend picked up speed in 2023, but a look below the surface shows one demographic in particular is heading for the exits: twentysomethings, a group overwhelmingly made up of renters.

Last year 14,100 more people in their 20s fled Ontario for other provinces and territories than headed in the other direction, at least double the number of net-interprovincial migrations among other age groups.

There’s nothing to conclusively say twentysomethings are leaving because of high rents, but the province accounts for eight of the top 10 priciest cities for rent, according to, and a majority of people in that age group are renters.

For young people who changed provinces last year, the most popular destination was Alberta, with net-interprovincial migration of 15,500, dwarfing every other province. Rents in Alberta are generally lower than in Ontario, though said the province had the second-highest year-over-year increase in rental rates for purpose-built and condominium apartments in January, at 17.8 per cent.

Even as young people pour out of Ontario, immigration is filling the gap and then some. Last year, more than 40,000 immigrants in their 20s moved to Ontario. The province, like the rest of Canada, has seen an influx of international students. Last month the federal government imposed a two-year cap on the number of international students.

The influx of young immigrants has tilted the national age younger, according to Statistics Canada. For the first time in 65 years, both the average and median age in Canada dipped slightly last year, from 41.7 to 41.6 and from 40.9 to 40.6, respectively.

Decoder is a weekly feature that unpacks an important economic chart.

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