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Quarterly Demographic Estimates
July to September 2006, Preliminary


On October 1, 2006, the population of Canada was estimated at 32,730,200, an increase of 106,700 from July 1. The rate of population growth in the third quarter of 2006 (0.33%) is similar to the rate observed in the same quarter of last year.

Net international migration accounted for more than two thirds (67.5%) of Canada’s population growth in the last quarter. For comparison, the average for third quarters in the 1990s was 53.5%.

Chart 1Quarterly aggregated demographic components, July to September, 1972 to 2006,

Immigration remained high, although it was below last year’s levels. While the number of new arrivals between July and September 2006 (70,300) did not match the peak recorded in 2005 (75,900), it was still above the third-quarter average for the period since 2000 (65,700).

A total of 193,400 immigrants have entered Canada since the beginning of 2006. By comparison, the total for the first nine months of 2005 was 206,900.

Ontario remains the preferred destination of immigrants, but its attraction is waning. In the third quarter of 2006, immigration to the province accounted for 48.6% of national immigration. The last time the third-quarter figure was so low was in 1991 (48.2%).

Alberta continues to have the highest growth rate in Canada

Alberta’s pull on the rest of the country is not diminishing, and its population growth remains high. In the last quarter, its population increased by 1.1%, a rate more than three times higher than the national average. Its gain of 37,700 people is a new record, eclipsing the old mark of 32,200 set in the third quarter of 1980, when the province was enjoying another oil boom.

Interprovincial migration continues to fuel Alberta’s population growth. In the last quarter, 65.1% of its growth was due to its net interprovincial migration, which climbed to 24,500, surpassing the old record of 16,800, also set in the third quarter of 1980.

Changing patterns of interprovincial mobility

Alberta’s attraction continues to affect the population of other parts of Canada, but the ways in which it is doing so are changing. Although Alberta’s economy remains buoyant, many more people are leaving the province. In the last quarter, 22,800 people moved out of Alberta, compared with 16,800 a year earlier. There have not been so many third-quarter departures since 1989 (23,600).

Saskatchewan was the province that benefited most in proportional terms from Alberta’s departures. Comparing the third-quarter net interprovincial migration figures for the last two years, we find that Saskatchewan’s net losses in exchanges with Alberta have fallen by 1,300. The improvement is mostly due to an increase in moves from Alberta to Saskatchewan (from 2,400 to 3,700).

In contrast, the number of people who left Ontario and Quebec for Alberta more than doubled in the last quarter compared with the same period last year. Net losses to Alberta jumped from 4,100 to 12,800 for Ontario and from 600 to 2,900 for Quebec.

Varying population growth in the rest of the country

British Columbia is the only other jurisdiction whose population grew faster than the national average. Despite net losses of 1,300 people to Alberta, its net interprovincial migration for the third quarter (2,100) was higher than the level for the same period last year (1,700).

For the first time since 1980, Ontario’s third-quarter growth rate was below the national average, mainly because of its net population losses to Alberta. Without the sustained influx of population provided by the highest immigration rate in Canada, Ontario’s net population growth would have been negative.

Similarly, Quebec’s population continues to grow but at a pace below than the Canadian average. The large increase in its net losses due to interprovincial migration, especially its losses to Alberta, wiped out significant gains due to international migration and natural increase. For the first time since the early 1980s, Quebec’s birth rate was higher than the national average. In addition, its net international migration rate for the July to September period was higher than it has been in any third quarter since 1992.

Chart 2Quarterly variation of population estimates, Canada, provinces
and territories, July to September, 2005 and 2006

While Manitoba’s net population growth remained positive in the last quarter primarily because of an immigration rate second only to Ontario’s, Saskatchewan’s population grew for the second time since 2000. With a gain of 500 people in the last quarter, the province posted its biggest population increase since the third quarter of 1995 (1,200). This was largely due to the decline in its net losses to Alberta.

In the Atlantic provinces, only Prince Edward Island had positive net population growth. The other three Atlantic provinces, still affected by large net interprovincial migration losses and the lowest rate of natural increase in Canada, posted population decreases. For Nova Scotia, it was the first negative third quarter since 1971.

In northern Canada, only Yukon Territory suffered a population decline. Since it has a lower birth rate than the other two territories, Yukon Territory’s population growth is more sensitive to variations in its net migration figures. Despite net gains in exchanges with Alberta, larger losses to British Columbia pushed its net interprovincial migration into the red (-100), causing a slight decrease in its population.

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Date Modified: 2006-12-21 Important Notices