2011 Census: Population and dwelling counts

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The population of Canada increased 5.9% between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, compared with a 5.4% increase during the previous five-year period. A full analysis is available in the report, The Canadian Population in 2011: Population Counts and Growth.

The increase in the growth rate was attributable to slightly higher fertility and to an increase in the number of non-permanent residents and immigrants.

Canada's population increased at a faster rate than the population of any other member of the G8 group of industrialized nations between 2006 and 2011. This was also the case between 2001 and 2006.

Net international migration (the difference between immigrants and emigrants) accounted for two-thirds of Canada's population growth during the last 10 years, and natural increase (the difference between births and deaths) for about one-third. In contrast, recent population growth in the United States has been mainly the result of natural increase.

The 2011 Census of Population enumerated 33,476,688 people in Canada, compared with 31,612,897 in 2006.

Provinces and territories

The population of all provinces and two of three territories increased between 2006 and 2011.

Nationally, the highest rate of growth occurred in Yukon, where the population increased 11.7% between 2006 and 2011. Among the provinces, Alberta (+10.8%) had the fastest growth rate.

The rate of population growth was higher in all provinces and territories between 2006 and 2011 than it was between 2001 and 2006, except in Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

The largest increases in the growth rates between the two five-year periods occurred in Saskatchewan, Yukon, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba.

Note to readers

Today, Statistics Canada releases analysis and data products on population and dwelling counts from the 2011 Census of Population. This is the first of four releases. Upcoming releases will focus on population by age and sex (May 29, 2012), families, households, marital status, structural type of dwelling and collectives (September 19, 2012) and language (October 24, 2012).


A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a population centre (also known as the core). A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000, of which 50,000 or more must live in the core. A CA must have a core population of at least 10,000.

A turnaround occurred in Saskatchewan, where the population increased 6.7% between 2006 and 2011, following declines of 1.1% in each of the two previous intercensal periods. The 2011 Census counted more than one million people in Saskatchewan. The one million mark was surpassed only once before in census history, in 1986. The increase in the population growth rate in Saskatchewan was mainly the result of higher immigration levels and higher net interprovincial migration.

A turnaround also occurred in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the growth rate reached 1.8% between 2006 and 2011. This was the first increase in Newfoundland and Labrador's population since the period between 1981 and 1986. The increase between 2006 and 2011 was attributable to three factors: higher numbers of non-permanent residents, slightly higher numbers of immigrants, and fewer migrants leaving the province for other regions of the country.

The population growth rate doubled in Yukon and Manitoba because of higher immigration levels in both jurisdictions. In addition, Yukon had a higher number of non-permanent residents and higher net inflows of people from other provinces and territories.

New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island also experienced faster growth between 2006 and 2011. Immigration was the main factor explaining the increase in Prince Edward Island. New Brunswick also received a higher number of immigrants and fewer people left the province for other regions of the country. Nova Scotia's growth increased slightly between 2006 and 2011.

In Central Canada, Quebec's population increased 4.7% between 2006 and 2011, compared with a 4.3% increase between 2001 and 2006. The increase was mainly the result of a higher level of immigration, an increase in non-permanent residents and higher fertility.

Ontario's population increased 5.7% between 2006 and 2011, compared with a 6.6% increase during the previous five-year period. The main contributors to this slightly slower growth were lower immigration levels and increases in the number of migrants leaving for other parts of the country.

British Columbia's population increased 7.0%, compared with a 5.3% increase between 2001 and 2006. Nunavut's population rose 8.3% compared with a 10.2% increase, while the Northwest Territories' population was unchanged (0.0%) after rising 11.0% between 2001 and 2006.

Metropolitan and non-metropolitan Canada

Census data for 2011 showed that 23,123,441 people, or 69.1% of the total population, lived in one of Canada's 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs). In addition, 4,311,524 people (12.9%) lived in census agglomerations (CAs) and 6,041,723 people (18.0%) lived outside CMAs and CAs.

The rate of growth between 2006 and 2011 was 7.4% in CMAs as a group, above the national average of 5.9%. The growth rate was 4.3% in CAs and 1.7% in regions located outside CMAs and CAs.

The three largest CMAs—Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver—accounted for 35.0% of the total Canadian population. The rate of population growth in these CMAs was 9.2% in Toronto, 5.2% in Montréal and 9.3% in Vancouver. Growth was mainly the result of immigration, as a majority of immigrants chose to settle in these areas.

The two fastest growing CMAs were both in Alberta: Calgary, where the population rose 12.6%, and Edmonton, where it increased 12.1%.

Saskatchewan's two CMAs—Regina and Saskatoon—both experienced faster growth rates. In Saskatoon, the population rose 11.4% between 2006 and 2011, compared with a 3.5% increase in the previous five-year period. Regina's growth rate went from 1.1% to 8.0%.

In most Ontario CMAs, growth rates were slower between 2006 and 2011 than in the previous five-year period.

The population declined in two CMAs between 2006 and 2011: Windsor (-1.3%) and Thunder Bay (-1.1%), both located in Ontario.

Municipalities (census subdivisions)

Canada, as a whole, comprises 5,253 census subdivisions, or municipalities. Of these, 709 contain 5,000 inhabitants or more.

Between 2006 and 2011, 12 of the 15 fastest growing municipalities with a population of 5,000 inhabitants or more were part of a CMA.

In contrast, the 15 municipalities with a population of 5,000 inhabitants or more with the largest population declines were all located outside CMAs and CAs.

The municipality with the fastest rate of growth was Milton, Ontario (+56.5%), which is part of the CMA of Toronto. It was followed by Martensville, Saskatchewan (+55.0%), part of the CMA of Saskatoon, and Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ontario (+54.3%), part of the CMA of Toronto.


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. Occupied private dwellings are separate living quarters with a private entrance in which people permanently live.

While the population rose 5.9% between 2006 and 2011, the number of occupied private dwellings increased 7.1%. The 2011 Census counted 13,320,614 occupied private dwellings, compared with 12,435,520 five years earlier.

Census website

Also available today on our website are various products and services from the 2011 Census Population and Dwelling Counts release topic. This web page has been designed to provide easy access to census data. Information is organized into four broad categories: data products, analytical products, reference products and geography.

Data products offer population and dwelling counts for a wide range of standard geographic areas, available in the Population and Dwelling Count Highlight Tables, 2011 Census and in the Census Profile.

A new analytical product called Focus on Geography Series also provides data and highlights on key topics found in the 2011 Census analytical document and in Census in Brief articles for various levels of geography.

A wide variety of 2011 Census geographic products, notably Geosearch, Reference maps, Thematic maps, Cartographic and Digital Boundary Files, Geographic Attribute File, GeoSuite, Illustrated Glossary and the Geography Catalogue, are all available today on the Census Geography landing page of our website.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3901.

The report The Canadian Population in 2011: Population Counts and Growth (98-310-X2011001, free) is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications. It focuses on recent trends in population growth at the national level, for provinces and territories, CMAs, CAs, regions located outside CMAs and CAs, as well as municipalities across the country.

Additional analysis is also available in the Census in Brief series (98-310-X2011003, free): "Population growth in Canada: From 1851 to 2061," "Canada's rural population since 1851," and "The census: A tool for planning at the local level."

Highlights from today's release are available on video. Users are also invited to chat with an expert on February 13.

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