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Living in Canada near a major city

Living in Canada near a major city

Living in Canada: Statistics Canada released its updated Index of Remoteness (IOR) at the start of 2023. This study aimed to assign a “remoteness” ranking to every habitable location in Canada.

The study evaluated various “Census Subdivisions (CSD),” i.e., Cities, Municipalities, Villages, Townships, etc., across Canada to determine the distance and ease of travel between each CSD and a major population centre.

The study also assigns each CSD a score ranging from 0, closest to a population centre, to 1, which is the most remote score conceivable. This is calculated using a formula that factors in the number of population centres that can be reached within or equal to a travel cost of $36 CAD, which is equal to 2.5 hours of travel time for a given CSD, a proxy for the quality of goods and services, and the cost of travel. This formula score is then indexed to produce a final remoteness score between 0 and 1.

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These remoteness scores can indicate the ease of access to resources and services that predict socioeconomic outcomes like education, healthcare, and economic opportunities in various CSD because the IOR considers physical distance, travel cost, and the number of population centres accessible daily.

How can the Index of Remoteness be utilised while living in Canada?

The IOR is a fantastic launching pad for candidates and successful applicants to begin their pursuit of permanent residence in Canada. While the scores themselves are not specific, they provide a general idea of distance, travel costs, and services available to residents of those locations. Once readers have this score, they can research additional specifics such as communities, travel distances, and living costs in the desired location(s).

This is especially relevant for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants, whose admission to Canada as permanent residents is typically contingent on their settling in a particular province or city.

The following are the remoteness scores of the cities expected to receive the most immigrants in 2022, based on the most recent immigration data available.

Location Remoteness Index Score

Toronto 0.00 Montréal 0.03 Vancouver 0.06 Calgary 0.10 Edmonton 0.11 Ottawa—Gatineau (Ontario section) 0.11 Winnipeg 0.14 Halifax 0.19 Saskatoon 0.21 Regina 0.22 Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo 0.07 (mean score).

The average score was Québec 0.14, Hamilton 0.11, London 0.10, Moncton 0.26, Windsor 0.15, St. Catherines—Niagara 0.09, and Abbotsford-Mission 0.14, St. John’s 0.24 and Victoria 0.14.

You can get the whole data sheet from Statistics Canada if there is a better place for you. Once you’ve opened the page, look for an area with an IOR score of 0 to 1.

General Observations

Below are the average scores of remoteness from the IOR (which incorporates census data from 2021) for all provinces and territories, as determined by the IOR. The scores consider the CSDs in which newcomers are most likely to reside, including cities, communities, municipalities and municipal districts, townships, and villages.

Province Provincial Index of Remoteness Score Newfoundland and Labrador* 0.29 Prince Edward Island** 0.32, Nova Scotia* 0.35, New Brunswick* 0.37, 0.23 Ontario, 0.25 Manitoba, 0.37 Saskatchewan, 0.38 Alberta*, 0.32 Yukon*, 0.62 and Northwest Territories* 0.70

Provinces like Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, which receive the most immigrants, naturally have the lowest average remoteness scores. Provinces and territories with fewer residents tend to fare better.

When calculating their distance scores, it is important to remember that all provinces and territories, except Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, lacked some or all of the CSDs that migrants like to frequent.

Remoteness scores tend to increase and grow more remote as one goes further north in Canada, as many may expect based on demographic estimates.

In addition, the image below displays the distribution of scores for all Canadian CSDs. While remoteness was less of an issue for most of the population, the sheer size of Canada (which has one of the lowest population densities in the world, at four people per square kilometre of land) likely skewed scores towards higher remoteness categories.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser stated in 2022 that Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) would continue to push the benefits of immigration to broader parts of Canada with smaller populations and a greater need for newcomers. This policy should also help significantly reduce overall remoteness scores and is currently being implemented. In the most recent immigration levels plan, the PNP has surpassed Express Entry as Canada’s primary immigration route.


  1. Distance, travel cost, and population centres determine the Index of Remoteness (IOR) for every habitable site in Canada.
  2. Remoteness ratings indicate resource and service availability for Canadian permanent residents, especially Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants.
  3. The least remote cities in 2022 are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Lower-population provinces score higher.
  4. Remoteness increases north in Canada, and low population may distort rankings.
  5. The Canadian government is pushing immigration to smaller communities with more demand for newcomers, which may lower remoteness rankings. PNP is Canada’s immigration channel.
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