Calgary one of top Canadian cities in EIU liveability index

By Hana Mae Nassar, Sonia Aslam

Calgary has been experiencing an ongoing housing crisis and struggles with health care in Alberta, but it ranked as one of the top Canadian cities when it comes to the latest liveability index.

The Economic Intelligence Unit puts Calgary at number seven globally, edging out Toronto at ninth, but Vancouver is tops in Canada at number five globally.

At the top of the index sits Vienna.

The EIU says its “Liveability Index has risen significantly in the 2023 survey, reaching a 15-year high as the world moves on from the [COVID-19] pandemic,” and as health care and education “improve in many cities in Asia and the Middle East and Africa.”

It explains a “shift back towards normality” post-pandemic, as well as ” incremental improvements in liveability made by many developing countries” have been the biggest drivers in the past year. However, the EIU notes stability has slipped since 2022, “amid several instances of civil unrest around the world.”

But a slip in stability wasn’t the case for the Canadian cities that made the top 10. The EIU says in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto, stability scores were “up compared with last year, when these cities were impacted by anti-vaccine protests.”

The EIU says, globally, the drop in stability ratings “has been modest.” Despite this, it notes high commodity prices, ongoing supply chain disruptions, food prices, and “currency weakness against the U.S. dollar for some countries will continue to fuel discontent in 2023.:

“Higher interest rates in the US and Europe have raised the risk of an increase in bankruptcies, bank failures and economic distress. Strains on public order and economic headwinds have also increased instances of crime in some cities, and these will continue to be a risk for the future. All of this suggests that stability scores in our Liveability Index are unlikely to recover quickly,” it explained.

When it comes to stability, healthcare, education, and infrastructure, Calgary scored 100, but had 87.3 in culture and environment, placing ninth in this category in the top ten, barely ahead of Osaka, Japan, which had a score of 86.8.

This comes despite ongoing staffing and resource challenges that Alberta’s healthcare system in many jurisdictions in the province are dealing with. Across the province, there have been many stories of a crumbling system, with a shortage of family doctors a big concern for many.

The Alberta government says it is going to use $200 million over two years to improve access to primary health care, which comes from a nearly $1.1 billion bilateral funding agreement it made with Ottawa.

B.C. losing people to Alberta amid high interprovincial migration: StatCan

The index results come just after Statistics Canada data showed many are giving up the west coast and moving to other parts of Canada, particularly Alberta.

The agency’s latest population data showed another big quarterly interprovincial shift in British Columbia’s population, with almost 13,000 people migrating to other provinces or territories from July through September. Of those, 9,589 chose Alberta as their new home.

While StatCan did not delve into the reasons behind interprovincial migration, CityNews has done many stories about people struggling with the high cost of living in Metro Vancouver.

Wild Rose Country’s recent “Alberta is Calling” campaign has certainly played on that sentiment, touting the province as affordable, friendly, and rich in opportunity.

Interprovincial migration is also a contributing factor to Alberta’s booming population, but with a steady stream of arrivals, a common challenge Calgary newcomers are facing is access to services.

Read More: Increase to Alberta’s population means slower access to services for newcomers

Figures from Statistics Canada show 15-straight months of interprovincial migration losses for B.C. from Q3 of 2022 to Q3 of 2023, with Alberta, by far, the most popular destination.

However, B.C.’s overall population continues to grow — up 1.1 per cent through the first nine months of the year, with international immigration the biggest contributor.

StatCan estimated more than 13,000 immigrants moved to the province from other countries last quarter.

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