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Calgary and Vancouver among most attractive cities to immigrants, Conference Board of Canada report finds

3:09 pm ET Sep 18, 2014

Calgary Remains Most Attractive City for New Canadians

Oil-rich Calgary, Alberta and government-focused Ottawa, Ontario are among the Canadian cities most attractive to newcomers, while Ontario’s struggling manufacturing centers are among the least.

Those were among the findings in a new Conference Board of Canada report, echoing views held by many economists that Canada’s economic center of gravity is moving westward.

The independent, non-profit research agency’s study ranks 50 Canadian cities according to their performance in seven categories that attract “mobile populations.” The categories include society, health, economy, environment, education, innovation and housing.

Calgary ranked first, as it did the last time the board did the study in 2010, and was the only city to rank first in two key categories — economy and innovation.

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Calgary’s overall results in education suffered from poor teacher-to-student ratios, including those at the university level. The Conference Board said that’s not uncommon for fast-growing cities, where aligning services with growth is challenging.

“Similarly, in health, Calgary scores a “D” grade for hospital beds per 100,000 people—another symptom of escalating growth,” it said.

Ottawa, the nation’s capital, benefits from the presence of a well-educated public-sector workforce. That has “helped to incubate creative ideas and to seed private-sector innovation,” the Conference Board said.

Canada’s two biggest cities diverge sharply in their ranking. Montreal, the largest city in Quebec, ranked only 33, burdened by weak performances in the economy and environment categories. Toronto, the nation’s financial hub, ranked 13, one notch higher than its 2010 performance

Two of the municipalities in Toronto’s sprawling suburbs, Richmond Hill and Markham, perform strongly, coming in third and ninth, respectively.

Canada’s third-biggest city, Vancouver, fared well. The report says that’s in large part because of the west coast city’s high quality of life, demonstrated by strong results in society, education and environment.

Graced with a beautiful setting and temperate climate, Vancouver is one of the key destinations for new Canadians, including a young demographic,” the report says.

At the opposite end of the scale a number of smaller, manufacturing-oriented cities were clustered, including Oshawa, Brantford, Windsor and Cambridge  in Ontario, and Longueuil and Trois Rivieres in Quebec.

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