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The number of main head offices in the country ebbed in recent years, although more Canadians are working at them, especially in Alberta.

Canada had 22 fewer main offices in 2011 from a year earlier, for a total of 2,843. That's not a huge change from 2010, when there were 2,865 head offices, but a provincial breakdown shows a decline for Ontario in both the number of head offices and the number of workers in them.

The new Statistics Canada numbers come amid a years-long debate over whether Canada is being hollowed out amid merger-and-acquisition activity - by both Canadian and foreign buyers - in a range of sectors, from mining to agriculture.

This is a new annual survey for the agency, so there are no comparable numbers from earlier than 2010 to get a sense of changes over time. Statscan looked at main offices in both the private sector and among Crown corporations.

Employment-wise, the number of workers in head offices rose the most in Calgary between 2010 and 2011, tallying growth of 6.5 per cent. Calgary also has the largest number of head offices per person in the country, followed by Toronto and Winnipeg.

Toronto is still home to the most head offices in the country, followed by Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. But Toronto registered declines in both its number of head offices, and number of workers in them in the 2010-to-2011 period.

Of the eight cities tracked, the ones with the fewest head offices per 100,000 population are Quebec City and Ottawa-Gatineau.

By sector, most head offices are in retail, manufacturing and trade. Alberta is home to 85 per cent of head offices in the oil and gas sector. And nearly a third of head offices in the finance and insurance sector are in Toronto.

All told, 219,629 Canadians worked in head offices in 2011, up a bit from 217,231 a year earlier, with the biggest increase in Alberta and the sharpest decline in Ontario.