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Thursday, June 29, 2006
Canada's population increased at its fastest first quarter rate in four years from January to March, surpassing the 32.5-million mark.
Net international migration continued to be the main engine of growth. Population exchanges between Canada and the rest of the world accounted for nearly three-quarters of the estimated growth of 78,200 during the first three months of the year. It was the biggest first quarter increase since 2002, when the nation gained 83,400 people.
Alberta's economic growth remains a powerful magnet for Canadians from all parts of the country. During the first quarter, its population rose by 0.78%, a rate three times higher than the national average of 0.24%.
Alberta gained 25,900 people, the highest first quarter increase ever for the province. Net interprovincial migration accounted for 15,600 of these people, also a record high for the first quarter.
Due to its strong natural growth, Nunavut's population rose by 0.66%, making it the only other region with an increase anywhere near Alberta's.
Only two other provinces had growth rates higher than the national average: British Columbia (+0.30%) and Ontario (+0.25%). Gains in both provinces were the result of a high net international migration.
Except for Prince Edward Island, all the Atlantic provinces showed a decline in population during the first quarter, as did Saskatchewan, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
Nationally, international migration to Canada remained strong. While the number of new arrivals did not match the peaks recorded in 2001 and 2002, the first quarter average over the past three years of 55,500 was still higher than that at any time since the early 1990s.
International migration has accounted for more than 70% of Canada's average first quarter population growth since 2001, compared with only 34% between 1979 and 1984.
However, during the first quarter of 2006, natural increase rose substantially for the first time since 1999, accounting for more than 20,000 people for the first time since 2003. Most of this gain occurred in Quebec, and at a lesser scale, in Alberta and British Columbia.
Net international migration offset Alberta's attraction in a number of provinces and territories from January to March. It was the most significant factor in 9 of the country's 13 jurisdictions.
For example, international migration accounted for 80% of total population growth in British Columbia, which also had the country's highest net international migration rate, ahead of Ontario and Manitoba.
The publication Quarterly Demographic Estimates, Vol. 20, no. 1 (91-002-XIE, free) is now available online from the Our Products and Services page of our website.
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