Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2021 to 2068, 2022
From 2016 to 2021, Canada's population grew at almost twice the pace of every other G7 country. While the pace of growth slowed in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, it rose again in 2021 and, from January to March 2022, it was the highest of all first quarters since 1990.
Some would like to see an even greater population increase in the future to mitigate the consequences of a labour shortage affecting certain sectors of the economy. Meanwhile, others stress the impact it will have on infrastructure, particularly in Canada's major cities, or on the availability of housing across the country.
In this context, population projections are a key tool that can help better plan the future needs of Canadians.
Today, Statistics Canada is releasing Population Projections for Canada (2021 to 2068), Provinces and Territories (2021 to 2043). Based in part on the assumptions of the previous edition (2018 to 2068), these projections were updated to reflect recent developments in Canadian demographics, including the increase in immigration targets announced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada's population could reach close to 57 million by 2068
As the world population is set to reach 8 billion people this year, Canada's population is also expected to grow significantly, according to the various scenarios proposed in the most recent population projections for Canada, the provinces and the territories.
From 38.2 million people in 2021, Canada's population may reach between 42.9 million and 52.5 million in 2043 and between 44.9 million and 74.0 million in 2068, according to the various projection scenarios.
In one medium-growth scenario, Canada's population would reach 47.8 million people in 2043 and 56.5 million in 2068.
Immigration expected to remain the main driver of population growth
If Canada's population continues to increase in the future, it will be mainly because of immigration, which is expected to remain quite significant in the coming decades, albeit at varying levels according to the different growth scenarios.
However, immigration is unable to significantly increase the proportion of youth in the population. This means that Canada will remain dependent on high immigration levels to renew its population, particularly in the context of a low and recently declining fertility rate.
Natural growth (births minus deaths) is expected to decrease in the coming years, namely because of an aging population and the low fertility of Canadian couples. In 2020, the number of children per woman reached a historically low level in Canada at 1.4.
This natural growth continues to decrease in Canada in the coming years in a medium-growth scenario, even becoming negative in the brief period between 2049 and 2058.
Moreover, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on population growth should be rather imperceptible. However, these results are tinged with uncertainty about the potential impact of new variants, particularly on border closures, in the future. In 2020, Canadian immigration was reduced by half because of border closures, bringing population growth to its lowest level since the First World War. However, this situation was temporary, and international migration rebounded in 2021, representing 87.4% of the country's population growth that year.
More than 1 in 4 people will be aged 65 and older in 2068
Canada's population will continue to age in the coming decades.
Thus, in a medium-growth projection scenario, the average age in Canada increases from 41.7 years in 2021 to 44.1 in 2043 and to 45.1 in 2068.
The proportion of people aged 65 and older increases from 18.5% in 2021 to 23.1% in 2043 and 25.9% in 2068 in a medium-growth scenario.
The population aged 85 and older may more than triple over the same period, from 871,000 in 2021 to 3.2 million in 2068.
While less evident in some projection scenarios that favour higher immigration, lower life expectancy and (above all) higher fertility, the aging of the population very much remains a reality, and thus seems to be unavoidable over the next 50 years.
Changing regional trends
Some regions of the country may see their population decrease in the low-growth scenario, where immigration is assumed to be lower, and in all scenarios in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Moreover, continued changes in interprovincial migration since the beginning of the pandemic may favour growth in certain provinces, including Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia. However, it is difficult to predict whether these new migration patterns will continue for a long time into the future.
The results of Population Projections for Canada (2021 to 2068), Provinces and Territories (2021 to 2043) are available in two tables in the Common Output Data Repository: 17-10-0057-01 (population figures) and 17-10-0058-01 (population growth components). They can also be viewed using a new interactive data visualization tool, Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories: Interactive Dashboard (71-607-X).
A short analytical report is also available: Population Projections for Canada (2021 to 2068), Provinces and Territories (2021 to 2043) (91-520-X).
Lastly, the publication Population Projections for Canada (2021 to 2068), Provinces and Territories (2021 to 2043): Technical Report on Methodology and Assumptions (91-620-X) provides information on the methods and assumptions underlying the projections.
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