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The Daily

Tuesday, March 13, 2007
2006 Census

Today, Statistics Canada begins to paint a statistical portrait of Canadians with the release of the first data from the 2006 Census, covering population and dwelling counts. A detailed analysis of growth rates, demographic trends and geographic distribution of the population is available in the report Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada's population increased 5.4%, the first time since 1991 that the census-to-census growth rate has accelerated. This acceleration during the past five years was due to higher levels of immigration.

Canada had a faster rate of growth than any other member of the G8 group of industrialized nations between 2001 and 2006. The United States was in second place with a population growth of 5.0% during the same period.

Net international migration fueled two-thirds of Canada's population growth. In contrast, 60% of the growth in the United States population was due to natural increase, that is, the number of births exceeding the number of deaths. The American fertility rate was among the highest for a developed country.

Two provinces, Alberta and Ontario, were responsible for two-thirds of the increase in Canada's population. Alberta, in the midst of an unprecedented economic boom, led the provinces with a growth rate of 10.6%. Calgary was the second fastest growing census metropolitan area (CMA); Barrie, which is north of Toronto, was the fastest.

In total, the 2006 Census enumerated 31,612,897 people in Canada, compared with 30,007,094 in 2001, a gain of just over 1.6 million individuals since the last census.

Alberta and Ontario had growth rates above the national average

Only two provinces, Ontario and Alberta, and the three territories recorded growth rates above the national average of 5.4% between 2001 and 2006.

By far, Alberta had the highest rate of growth, 10.6%, surpassing even its rate of growth of 10.3% during the previous five-year period. Net migration from other parts of the country accounted for the majority of the growth in Alberta between 2001 and 2006.

The 6.6% gain in Ontario was the result of a high level of immigration between 2001 and 2006. Half of all Canada's population growth occurred in Ontario.

Two provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan, experienced population declines. However, the 1.5% decline in Newfoundland and Labrador was slower than the 7.0% drop between 1996 and 2001.

The 1.1% drop in Saskatchewan was identical to the decline during the previous census. It was the second time in 50 years that the population of Saskatchewan fell during back-to-back census periods; the first was between 1966 and 1976.

The Atlantic region as a whole did not share in Canada's population growth. The 2006 Census counted 2,284,779 people in the four provinces combined, virtually unchanged from 2001. Populations edged up in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, but remained virtually the same in New Brunswick.

Quebec's population rose 4.3%, three times faster than in the previous five-year period (+1.4%). It was the second fastest growth rate since the end of the baby boom in the mid-1960s, and was due to an increase in net international immigration, as well as to smaller net losses in migration exchanges with other provinces.

Manitoba's population growth of 2.6%, its fastest since 1981, was due largely to net international migration.

British Columbia's population surpassed the four-million mark between 2001 and 2006. Its rate of growth of 5.3% was almost identical to the national average.

The population of the three territories combined surpassed 100,000 for the first time, up from 93,000 five years earlier. With a population of 41,464, the Northwest Territories is the most populous of the three. The two others were close behind — the Yukon with 30,372 and Nunavut with 29,474.

Urbanization continues as four out of five people live in an urban centre

In 2006, four out of every five individuals, more than 80%, lived in an urban centre of 10,000 people or more. The proportion of urban residents is similar in the United States but smaller in the other G8 countries, with the exception of the United Kingdom, where it is close to 90%.

Just over two-thirds (68%) of Canada's population in 2006 lived in the nation's 33 census metropolitan areas. (For the 2006 Census, six CMAs were added to the list: Brantford, Guelph, Barrie, Peterborough, Moncton and Kelowna.)

The vast majority (90%) of all Canada's population growth occurred in these 33 centres.

Six census metropolitan areas had populations of more than 1 million: Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver and Ottawa–Gatineau, and, for the first time, Calgary and Edmonton. Combined, they were home to 14,110,317 people, or 45% of the total population.

The fastest growing census metropolitan area was Barrie, whose population rose 19.2% to 177,061 in 2006. It was followed by Calgary, whose population increased 13.4% to 1,079,310.

At the same time, Canada's small towns and rural areas grew by a slight 1.0% between 2001 and 2006, after edging down 0.4% in the previous intercensal period. In 2006, just under 20% of Canadians, about 6 million, were living in small town and rural areas.

Dwellings: Outpacing the population

The number of occupied private dwellings in Canada continues to grow at a faster rate than the country's population, as it has since 1971.

While the population rose 5.4% between 2001 and 2006, the number of occupied private dwellings increased 7.5%. The 2006 Census counted 12,435,520 total occupied private dwellings, compared to 11,562,976 five years earlier.

Data on dwellings are available from a detailed table.

Release of personal census information after 92 years

The 2006 Census, for the first time, allowed Canadians the opportunity of choosing to have their census information transferred to Library and Archives Canada and made publicly available in 92 years, in other words, in the year 2098.

Nationally, 56% of respondents replied yes, and the remainder either said no or left the box blank. The results are available in tabular form.

Census website

Also available today are various products and services available from the 2006 Census Population and Dwelling Counts web page on Statistics Canada's website. This web page has been designed to provide easy access to census data. Information on this web page is organized into three broad categories: data products, analysis series, and geography.

Data products offer population and dwelling counts for a wide range of standard geographic areas, available either in the Population and Dwelling Counts Highlight Tables or in the 2006 Community Profiles.

Geography maps provide a view of the standard geographic areas of Canada. Use GeoSearch2006, an interactive mapping tool, to find any place in Canada and display a map of the place with its population count. A large collection of reference documents, maps and thematic maps are also available.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3901.

The report Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006, 2006 Census (97-550-XWE2006001, free) is now available from the Publications module of our website.

This is the first in a series of data releases from the May 2006 Census. The next release, scheduled for July 17, 2007, will provide information on age and sex. Further announcements will appear through to May 2008 and will provide information on marital status, language groups, labour market activity, education, ethnic origin, income and many other social and economic characteristics.

For more information, contact Media Relations (613-951-4636), Communications and Library Services Division.