Analysis

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Canada’s population estimated at 36.5 million

According to preliminary estimates, Canada’s population was estimated at 36,503,097 on January 1, 2017, up 59,465 from October 1, 2016. This growth is slightly higher than in the same quarter the previous year (+56,780).

International migration accounts for most of the population growth

Population growth at the national level is based on two factors: natural increase 1  and net international migration, 2  while provincial and territorial population estimates also factor in interprovincial migratory increase.

International migration remained the main driver of population growth, with an estimated increase of 34,272 between October 1, 2016, and January 1, 2017, a similar gain as in the same quarter the previous year (+30,435). While immigration (+55,823) was down 20% compared with the fourth quarter of 2015 (+69,730), the decline in the number of non-permanent residents, which is common for a fourth quarter, was less pronounced in 2016 (-8,495) compared with the previous year (-26,239). Other components of international migration remained stable.

According to preliminary estimates, natural increase in the fourth quarter of 2016 totalled 25,193, or the difference between 96,620 births and 71,427 deaths.

Population growth was highest in Nunavut and the Prairies

During the fourth quarter of 2016, population growth 3  was positive in all provinces and territories, except Newfoundland and Labrador, where the population declined, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where the population remained relatively stable. Nunavut (+0.4%) had the highest rate of population growth in Canada. In addition, the population growth of each Prairie province (+0.3%) was faster than for Canada (+0.2%).

Compared with the same period last year, the population growth rates dropped slightly in each of the Atlantic provinces, as well as in Manitoba and Alberta. They rose in British Columbia, Yukon and Nunavut, and remained stable in the remaining provinces.

International migration is the source of growth in most provinces

International migration was the most common driver of growth in provinces where the population increased during the fourth quarter of 2016. For example, it was the main source of population increases in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. However, natural increase was slightly higher than international migration in Quebec and Alberta. Population growth in the three territories was also mainly attributable to natural increase. Additionally, growth of the population in British Columbia was primarily due to gains in interprovincial migration.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, international migratory increase in all the provinces except Ontario and British Columbia was lower than in the same quarter last year. On the one hand, the net number of non-permanent residents in Ontario was positive (+1,244) for the first time during a fourth quarter since 1988. On the other hand, in British Columbia, while the net number of non-permanent residents remained negative (-3,640), it was nonetheless higher than in the fourth quarter of 2015 (-8,311). Immigration remained relatively stable or decreased in all the provinces and territories compared with the same quarter last year.

In Ontario and British Columbia, interprovincial migration growth remained positive in the fourth quarter of 2016. All the other provinces experienced interprovincial migration losses, including Alberta which has shown losses for five consecutive quarters after 20 quarters of gains. Nonetheless, Alberta’s interprovincial migration losses in the last quarter (-2,573) were lower than in the previous quarter (-3,850). Interprovincial migration growth in Ontario (+3,983) slowed compared with the third quarter of 2016 (+11,591). However, this is the first time since the early 2000s that Ontario has posted six consecutive quarters of positive interprovincial migration growth. Much of Ontario’s interprovincial migration growth came at the expense of Quebec and Alberta, while Alberta’s losses primarily benefitted British Columbia and Ontario.

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