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In the fourth quarter of 2012, Canada’s population grew by 53,600 according to preliminary population estimates, reaching 35,056,100 on January 1, 2013. From October 1, 2012 to January 1, 2013, the population growth reached 0.2%, a level similar to what was observed during the same period in the previous year. 1 

Natural increase in the fourth quarter of 2012 accounted for 53.5% of the country's population growth while net international migration contributed to 46.5% of this growth.

Net international migration in the fourth quarter of 2012 reached 24,900, a decline of 11,100 compared to 2011. This decline was mainly due to the drop in the net flow of non-permanent residents between the fourth quarters of 2011 (-11,000) and 2012 (-24,700). In the last quarter of 2012, Canada received 62,300 immigrants, an increase of 2,700 from the same period in the previous year and a record level for a fourth quarter since 1992. Canada’s natural increase for the last three months of 2012 remained relatively stable at 28,700.

Population growth in the provinces and territories

Preliminary estimates show that among the provinces, Quebec (0.1%), Ontario (0.1%), Manitoba (0.3%), Saskatchewan (0.3%) and Alberta (0.6%) experienced population growth in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Atlantic provinces

Preliminary estimates show that population declined in the fourth quarter of 2012 in Prince Edward Island (-0.2%), Nova Scotia (-0.1%) and New Brunswick (-0.1%), while the population of Newfoundland and Labrador remained stable.

As of January 1, 2013, the population in Newfoundland and Labrador was estimated at 513,600.

Prince Edward Island recorded a population decline (-0.2%) in the fourth quarter of 2012, to a total of 145,900 on January 1, 2013. This decline was mainly due to losses in interprovincial migration (-500) according to preliminary estimates.

The population of Nova Scotia was estimated at 946,800 on January 1, 2013, down by 1,100 (-0.1%) from October 1, 2012. Population decline had not been this large for a fourth quarter, except in 1999 and was the result of a loss in interprovincial migration (-1,100).

The population of New Brunswick declined in the fourth quarter of 2012 by approximately 600 (-0.1%) to a total of 754,700 on January 1, 2013. This was the largest population decline for the province since 1971, the first year covered by the current system of demographic accounts. The main contributor to the population decline was losses in interprovincial migration (-700). New Brunswick had not seen such large fourth-quarter losses in interprovincial migration since 1986 (-900).

Central Canada

In the fourth quarter of 2012, both Quebec (+0.1%) and Ontario (+0.1%) experienced population growth below national average (+0.2%).

Quebec’s population grew by 8,100 in the fourth quarter to an estimated 8,085,000 on January 1, 2013. This was the smallest fourth-quarter population growth since 2006. The slowdown in the province’s population growth was due to greater losses in net interprovincial migration (-2,000) and a lower net international migration level (+3,700) compared to the same quarter in 2011. Quebec received its second highest number of immigrants (+12,900) for a fourth quarter of 2012. This growth was offset by a decrease in the net flow of non-permanent residents, estimated at -7,200 in the fourth quarter of 2012.

As of January 1, 2013, the population of Ontario was estimated at 13,561,000. It experienced a population growth of 14,900 (+0.1%) in the fourth quarter of 2012. During this quarter, Ontario’s interprovincial migration losses (-4,100) were greater than in 2011 (-1,100). This low growth was also related to a lower level of net international migration (+8,700) compared to the same period in 2011 (+13,300).

Western Canada

For a fifth consecutive quarter, Alberta posted the largest population growth rate of all provinces. Its population growth rate (+0.6%) was triple that of the Canadian rate.

The population of Manitoba was estimated at 1,274,300 as of January 1, 2013, an increase of 3,600 (+0.3%) from October 1, 2012. The growth was mainly due to net international migration (+2,900) which was the highest fourth-quarter level recorded for Manitoba, with the exception of 2011. In the last quarter of 2012, Manitoba received 3,200 immigrants, a continuation of the level of immigration recorded in the same quarter in the past two years.

With a growth of 3,200 people (+0.3%) in the fourth quarter of 2012, Saskatchewan’s population was estimated at 1,089,800 on January 1, 2013. Besides 2011, this was the second largest fourth-quarter population growth since 1971. Net international migration was the main factor behind the province’s population growth. Saskatchewan received 2,400 immigrants during this quarter which was the second highest fourth-quarter number since 1971.

As of January 1, 2013, the population of Alberta was estimated at 3,931,300. Alberta recorded the second highest fourth-quarter growth in 2012, with a population increase of 24,500. The growth of Alberta’s population was mainly due to interprovincial migration gains (+11,500). During the last quarter of 2012, most of the province net inflows came from Ontario (+4,500) and British Columbia (+2,600). In addition, Alberta had net international migration (+6,300) that was the second highest for a fourth quarter, with the exception of 2008. This gain in net international migration was fueled by the arrival of 9,100 immigrants, the highest fourth-quarter level.

British Columbia’s population remained stable during the quarter (+1,000) which was the slowest fourth-quarter population growth since 1971. On January 1, 2013, the population of British Columbia was estimated at 4,639,900. Natural increase (+2,500) was the main factor behind the province’s population growth in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the sixth consecutive quarter, British Columbia recorded net losses in interprovincial migration (-2,200), losing mostly in its exchanges with Alberta (-2,600).

The territories

According to preliminary estimates, Yukon was the only territory to record a population decline in the last quarter of 2012 (-0.4%). Yukon’s population was estimated at 36,200 on January 1, 2013. The population of Northwest Territories increased by 0.2% to reach 43,400 as of January 1, 2013. Finally, the population of Nunavut was estimated at 34,100 on January 1, 2013, a population increase of 0.3% since October 1, 2012.

2012 population growth

In 2012, the population of Canada grew by 384,800 people, an annual growth rate of 1.1%. This growth has been above 1.0% since 2006. Prairie provinces, along with Yukon (+1.7%) and Nunavut (+1.5%), all posted higher annual growth rates than the national average (1.1%).

Alberta led the country in terms of growth rate at 3.0%, followed by Saskatchewan (+2.0%) and Manitoba (+1.2%). The annual growth rate was positive but below the national average in British Columbia (+0.8%), Quebec (+0.9%) and Ontario (0.9%). Over the last year, populations in Atlantic provinces were either stabled, in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador (+0.0%) and Prince Edward Island (+0.0%) or declined, in the case of Nova Scotia (-0.2%) and New Brunswick (-0.2%). Finally, the population of the Northwest Territories decreased by 0.7% in 2012.

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