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Old Posted Dec 20, 2007, 3:14 PM
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Manitoba's population increase largest in years
Thu Dec 20 2007

By Marie-Jo Proulx

FEWER people are deserting Manitoba, according to a Statistics Canada report released Wednesday.

In the last year, a total of 7,571 more people were added to Manitoba's population, the largest increase since 1982.

Wilf Falk, of the Manitoba Bureau of Statistics, credited the trend to the high cost of living in Alberta, still the first destination for those who do leave Manitoba.

Falk pointed to the strong economy in Manitoba as a reason many workers may decide to stay or to return. Housing, manufacturing and exports are all up from last year and the province's workforce is growing. Manitoba has improved its labour productivity by 2.2 per cent, or double the national average increase.

Bob Dolyniuk, general manager of the Manitoba Trucking Association, said he would not be surprised to see an influx of workers from Ontario. "With the downturn in the auto industry, I think there's a likelihood people will come back."

The trend may have already started, as 184 people came to Manitoba from Ontario in the last year.

Retired theatre manager Gord Jackson is one of them. Having lived and worked in Hamilton most of his life, he moved to Winnipeg in the fall to enjoy his retirement. "I love the winter here," he said, noting he also appreciates the lower levels of air pollution.

In line with historical trends, Quebec continues to contribute more residents to Manitoba than it welcomes. A total of 230 made that trip west last year.

Isaac Gelin and Diergeline Desjardins left their French-speaking province in search of a place where they could make daily use of their native tongue. They moved to Winnipeg in September.

"The city is not very modern, and it's quite smaller," Gelin said, "but people are a lot friendlier than in Montreal."

He and his wife hope to remain here after they finish their studies. Gelin is in medical school at the University of Manitoba. Desjardins, who was a nurse in Montreal, is now completing equivalencies at the Coll├Ęge universitaire de Saint-Boniface so she can work as a nurse here.

The breakdown

Manitoba population and economic figures for the last year:

* Total population increase: 11,471

* Net inter-provincial inflow: 7,571

* Last net inter-provincial inflow: 1,378 (1983)

* Labour productivity increase: 2.2 per cent (first in Canada)

* Total exports: 12.9 per cent increase (second in Canada)

* Unemployment rate: 4.2 per cent

* Corporate bankruptcies: 33 per cent decrease
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