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Canada's population estimates

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Fourth quarter 2008 (preliminary) (Previous release)

Canada's population grew by 0.19% in the fourth quarter of 2008, the fastest fourth-quarter growth rate since 1992. The increase in population continues to be steadier in the western part of the country, notably in Alberta.

As of January 1, 2009, Canada's population was an estimated 33,504,700, up 63,400 from October 1, 2008.

The increased pace in population growth can be explained by a marked increase in net international migration, specifically a rise in net non-permanent residents.

During the fourth quarter of 2008, the net international migration to Canada rose to 35,700, an increase of 7,700 compared with the same period in 2007.

Net losses in non-permanent residents went from 17,500 in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 7,700 in the fourth quarter of 2008. This had the affect of increasing Canada's net international migration by 9,700.

Immigration to Canada reached 53,600 during the four quarter of 2008, declining by just over 2,000 from the same quarter of 2007.

Except for Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories, the population rose in every province and territory during the fourth quarter of 2008.

Sustained demographic growth in the West

Demographic growth remained higher in Western Canada in the fourth quarter. The four provinces west of Ontario all posted growth rates higher than the national level.

Alberta continued to be the province posting the country's highest demographic growth. At 0.60%, the pace of Alberta's population growth is more than triple the national rate.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, Alberta's net international migration increased and reached 9,000, a level never before seen for a fourth quarter. The number of non-permanent residents grew by 6.3%, the fastest growth in the country. In addition, the province received 5,200 immigrants during the period, a level not seen in a fourth quarter since 1981.

The growth in Alberta was also supported by an increase in net interprovincial migration. During the fourth quarter of 2008, Alberta recorded a net increase of 6,200 people through population exchanges from other parts of the country, compared with 900 the previous year.

Moderate growth for Ontario

In the fourth quarter, the population growth of Ontario (+0.08%) continued to be below the national level. During this period, the province registered a net outflow in interprovincial migration of 6,500 people, the largest fourth quarter net outflow since 1975.

Ontario received 23,800 immigrants in the fourth quarter of 2008, 2,400 less than during the same period in 2007. The province's attraction for new immigrants continues to diminish. During the fourth quarter, Ontario received slightly less than 45% of the country's new immigrants.

The Atlantic region posts demographic growth

In the fourth quarter, all the Atlantic provinces, except for Prince Edward Island, posted population growth.

Note to readers

Due to the seasonality of demographic events, comparisons are made against the same quarter. Unless otherwise stated, the comparisons presented in the text concern the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008.

The natural increase is the variation in population size over a given period as a result of the difference between the number of births and deaths.

International migration represents a movement of population between Canada and a foreign country that involves a change in the usual place of residence. A distinction is made with regard to immigrants, emigrants, returning emigrants, net temporary emigrants and net non-permanent residents.

Non-permanent residents (also called temporary residents) are people from another country who have a work or study permit, or who are refugee claimants, and family members living in Canada with them.

With demographic growth of 0.07%, New Brunswick dominated the region in the fourth quarter. The province's growth can be explained by a dual increase in both its net interprovincial and international migrations. Total migration net inflows in New Brunswick reached 500, a level not observed in a fourth quarter since 1975.

The number of births continues to rise in Quebec. During the fourth quarter of 2008, the province had a 3.9% increase in births compared with the same period in the previous year. An increase in the number of births was also noted in some other provinces, particularly in the West, but not on the scale seen in Quebec.

Available on CANSIM: tables 051-0005, 051-0006, 051-0017, 051-0020, 051-0037, 051-0045 and 053-0001.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 3231, 3233 and 3601.

The October to December 2008 issue of Quarterly Demographic Estimates, Vol. 22, no. 4 (91-002-XWE, free), is now available from the Publications module of our website.

For more information, to obtain additional data, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-866-767-5611; 613-951-2320; fax: 613-951-2307;, Demography Division.

Table 1

Components and factors of demographic growth
  Fourth quarter 20071 Fourth quarter 20082 Fourth quarter 2007and fourth quarter 2008
  number difference
Total growth 56,343 63,403 7,060
Natural increase 28,294 27,687 -607
Births 88,603 90,160 1,557
Deaths 60,309 62,473 2,164
Net international migration 28,049 35,716 7,667
Immigration 55,572 53,549 -2,023
Net non permanent residents -17,473 -7,737 9,736
Emigration3 10,050 10,096 46
Updated estimates.
Preliminary estimates.
Emigration also takes into account net temporary emigration and returning emigration.

Table 2

Quarterly demographic estimates
  October 1, 20081 January 1, 20091 October 1, 2008 to January 1, 2009
  number % change
Canada 33,441,277 33,504,680 0.19
Newfoundland and Labrador 508,944 508,990 0.01
Prince Edward Island 140,750 140,402 -0.25
Nova Scotia 939,125 939,531 0.04
New Brunswick 747,790 748,319 0.07
Quebec 7,771,854 7,782,561 0.14
Ontario 12,977,059 12,986,857 0.08
Manitoba 1,210,547 1,213,815 0.27
Saskatchewan 1,020,847 1,023,810 0.29
Alberta 3,610,782 3,632,483 0.60
British Columbia 4,405,534 4,419,974 0.33
Yukon 33,372 33,442 0.21
Nortwest Territories 43,151 42,940 -0.49
Nunavut 31,522 31,556 0.11
Preliminary postcensal estimates.
These estimates are based on 2006 Census population counts adjusted for census net undercoverage.