Many Americans have been looking for answers since June 24, when the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, allowing states to restrict or outright ban abortion access and regressing women's rights in the country by 50 years. Google searches like "how to move to Canada from the U.S." have seen a particular surge, rivalling levels only seen six years ago when Donald Trump was elected president.
Google Trends shows the query reached peak popularity in November 2016, leading up to Trump's victory. Searches for "move to Canada" went from a rating of 13 to 100 in just two and a half hours, as ballot counts saw Trump solidify his lead over Clinton. Around the same time, Canada's immigration website crashed due to "a significant increase in the volume of traffic," according to an IRCC spokesperson.
While no similar crashes have since been reported, the Google rating for searches involving Americans moving to Canada has hit 74 in the past four days, its second-highest level ever. In fact, "how to move to Canada from U.S." shot up over 800 percent just one hour after the Supreme Court announcement. People living in conservative states with harsher anti-abortion laws, like Kentucky, have been among the top searchers.
Over the past 12 years, the search has spiked five times. The third-highest rating of 66 was reached in October 2020 just before Biden was elected.
Americans also flocked to the search engine in May of this year, looking up Canadian citizenship information and bringing the rating to 51, just after nineteen students and two teachers were gunned down at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The fifth spike in the immigration search was seen in March 2016, linked to Trump's momentum during the U.S. primary election. Searches for "how can I move to Canada" went up 350%, according to a Google data editor, as voters indicated their overwhelming support for the candidate on Super Tuesday.
Whether many Americans follow through on flocking north remains to be seen, but Canadian leadership, including Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, have encouraged those in need of reproductive health care to come to the city.
“If there are Americans who want to come here, they will always be welcome,” she said during a Monday press conference.
For now, abortion in Canada remains legal at all stages of pregnancy, although access is uneven across provinces and territories and activists are working to elect more anti-abortion officials. There is also no legislative framework ensuring that the medical procedure remains a fundamental right.