Growth in Alberta, Manitoba, decline in Atlantic Canada
According to 2016 census data released by Statistics Canada, Canada’s population increased to 35,151,728 last year largely driven by growth in the Western part of the country. While the rate of growth slowed in Canada’s three largest metropolitan areas, 35.5 per cent of Canadians now call Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver home.
The country’s population has grown five per cent since the last census in 2011, when it was at 33.5 million, the highest rate of growth among G7 member countries. The growth rate declined, however, from the 5.9 per cent increase recorded in 2011. About two-thirds of the increase recorded in 2016 was due to net immigration into the country, while the rest was from births within the country.
The six fastest metropolitan areas were all in Western Canada Calgary, Lethbridge, and Edmonton in Alberta, Saskatoon and Regina in Saskatchewan, and Kelowna in British Columbiam with all but BC posting growth of more than 10 per cent.
The biggest increase in numbers was recorded in Alberta at 11.6 per cent; Saskatchewan at 6.3 per cent; and Manitoba at 5.8 per cent. Alberta had been the fastest-growing province in the 2006 and 2011 census as well. British Columbia also grew by 5.6 per cent, faster than the national average.
Karen Mihorean, Director General of the Education, Labour and Income Statistics branch of Statistics Canada says that the census compares 2011 to 2016, and the country has seen fifteen strong years of growth in Alberta. She said Alberta is unique among Canadian provinces for having strong numbers in all three factors that contribute to growth in population which are immigration, interprovincial migration, and births.
The four Atlantic Provinces recorded the lowest growth in the country with 1.9 per cent in Prince Edward Island, one per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador, where more deaths than births occurred in some years, and 0.2 per cent in Nova Scotia. New Brunswick’s population decreased by 0.5 per cent, the only province with a decline since 2011.
Mihorean says population growth gets stronger from East to West, and that’s a trend that has been seen for the last few censuses. “In Atlantic Canada, it’s a case of seeing people leaving these provinces for other parts of the country.”
Ontario remains Canada’s most populous province at 13.4 million, an increase of 4.6 per cent from 2011. Ontario’s growth rate, however, was lower than the national average for the second consecutive census period, the first time in fifty years. Quebec’s population grew 3.3 per cent to 8.2 million, followed by British Columbia at 4.6 million, Alberta at 4.1 million, Manitoba at 1.3 million and Saskatchewan at 1.1 million. The population in Atlantic Canada was 2.3 million, with just under 924,000 residing in Nova Scotia.
The North has a total population of 114,000, led by the Northwest Territories. The population of Nunavut increased by 12.7 per cent and had the highest growth rate of any province or territory due to its high birth rate.
Throughout the whole country, Toronto remains the country’s largest metropolitan area at 5.9 million, increasing by 6.2 per cent since 2011, while Montreal’s population has gone past the four million mark to 4.1 million, and Vancouver’s population is now at 2.5 million.
Source: Statistics Canada