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Section 1: Census metropolitan areas

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At July 1, 2009, 23,221,751 people lived in a census metropolitan area (CMA).

The total CMA population increased more (15.5 per thousand) than that of the country overall (12.3 per thousand).

A little more than two-thirds (68.8 %) of Canada’s population lived in a CMA as of July 1, 2009.

The Calgary (31.7 per thousand), Saskatoon (28.5 per thousand) and Edmonton (24.6 per thousand) CMAs experienced the largest increases. In comparison, the Windsor (-5.7 per thousand), Thunder Bay (-5.2 per thousand) and Saguenay (-0.10 per thousand) CMAs experienced the largest decreases.

Alberta’s CMAs continue to grow

Once again, the Calgary and Edmonton CMAs experienced population growth within the largest of all other CMA, respectively ranking first and third.

With an increase of 31.7 per thousand for the 2008/2009 period, the Calgary CMA grew to 1,230,248 inhabitants, or 38,402 more than the previous year. The Edmonton CMA grew by 28,079 individuals, reaching a total of 1,155,383.

The population increase in these two CMAs was mainly driven by international migration. In fact, the net international migration was of 18,253 migrants for Calgary and 12,427 migrants for Edmonton, just behind Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver. The second source if growth is coming from the natural increase, Calgary’s population grew by 10,924 individuals and Edmonton’s by 8,257 individuals.

Increased growth for Saskatchewan’s CMAs

Saskatchewan’s CMAs experienced a large increase in population growth over the past year.

The Saskatoon CMA experienced a 28.5 per thousand increase in its population this year, compared to 23.1 per thousand last year. Its population rose from 250,071 at July 1, 2008 to 257,298 at July 1, 2009.

The Regina CMA’s population grew by 19.5 per thousand from July 1, 2008 to July 1, 2009, compared to 13.3 per thousand for the previous period. Regina now has a population of 210,006.

The increase in population growth for these two CMAs is partly due to recent gains in their international migration exchanges. Saskatoon and Regina present positive net international migration of 4,083 and 2,201 migrants respectively.

Population decreases for Windsor and Thunder Bay CMAs

While some CMAs experienced population increases neighbouring 15 per thousand, the opposite also occurred. Ontario’s Windsor (-5.7 per thousand) and Thunder Bay (-5.2 per thousand) CMAs both experienced decreases in their population. This is not a new situation. The population of Windsor was decreasing for the last 3 years and Thunder Bay for the last 5 years.

At July 1, 2009, the Windsor CMA had 331,537 inhabitants, 1,879 less than a year before. Negative net interprovincial migration was the main reason for this decrease, with this CMA losing 2,201 individuals in such exchanges with other provinces and territories across Canada.

The Thunder Bay CMA’s population decreased by 650 between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009, dropping from 125,466 individuals to 124,816. A net loss of 726 individuals through interprovincial migration accounted for part of this population decrease.

Smaller population growth in the Maritimes CMAs

Although all Maritimes CMAs experienced increases in their populations over the past year, these were slower than for CMAs overall (15.5 per thousand).

The Halifax CMA experienced the largest population increase of all CMAs in the Maritimes, with 13.2 per thousand. This CMA’s population increased by 5,235 individuals, rising from 392,802 to 398,037 inhabitants between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009. A positive net intraprovincial migration balance of roughly 1,500 individuals accounted for much of this increase.

Between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009, the population of the Moncton CMA rose from 132,155 to 133,880 inhabitants, an increase of 13.0 per thousand. As for Halifax the population growth is mainly driven by a net intraprovincial migration balance of nearly 1,500 individuals.

Most international immigrants headed to Toronto

As in prior years, the Toronto CMA was the first destination for international immigrants, 92,652 of whom moved to the Canadian metropolis. It was followed by the Montréal (38,898) and Vancouver (33,021) CMAs.

In contrast, the Saguenay (77), Greater Sudbury (109) and Peterborough (120) CMAs were the least popular destinations for international immigrants between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009.

Wider range of destinations for international immigrants

Although Toronto remained the first destination for international immigrants arriving in Canada, the proportion of all international immigrants choosing to live in Toronto decreased by 13.7 percentage points between 2001/2002 and 2008/2009, from 47.9 % to 34.2 %.

The Winnipeg (+3.0 %), Montréal (+2.8 %) and Vancouver (+1.5 %) CMAs saw their share of international immigrants increase during the same period.

Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver growing due to international immigration

Canada’s three largest CMAs—Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver—owe much of their population growth to international immigration.

At July 1, 2009, the Toronto CMA’s population reached 5,623,450 individuals, an increase of 92,862 over the year before. Despite a net deficit of 25,370 inhabitants from intraprovincial and interprovincial exchanges, Toronto nonetheless experienced a 16.7 per thousand population increase, mainly due to a much larger number of immigrants (83,909) than emigrants (10,963).

The Montréal CMA grew by 13.1 per thousand over the year before, reaching 3,814,738. The population increase of 49,611 was partly due to an international migration balance of 46,142 individuals. At the intraprovincial and interprovincial levels, the Montréal CMA lost a total of 16,074 individuals through its exchanges. Montréal had the smallest population increase of all CMAs with more than one million inhabitants, behind the Ottawa – Gatineau CMA (5.5 per thousand).

Between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009, the Vancouver CMA’s population rose from 2,279,267 to 2,328,007 individuals, an increase of 21.2 per thousand. Net international migration for this CMA was 44,788 migrants, compared to -6,002 migrants at the intraprovincial and interprovincial levels. The Vancouver CMA came fourth among all CMAs in terms of its annual population growth between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009.

The population of CMAs is younger than for the country as a whole

As of July 1, 2009, the median age of the population living in the country’s 33 CMAs was 38.6 years, slightly younger than the median age of the population living in non-CMA areas (41.9 years).

Since last year, the median age of the population of CMAs has increased by 0.1 years, from 35.5 years to 38.6 years.

For the purposes of this article, median age was used as an indicator of the aging of a population. The median age is an age "x", such that exactly one half of the population is older than "x" and the other half is younger than "x".

The three youngest CMAs are in the Prairies

As of July 1, 2009, the population of 17 CMAs showed a median age less than the national average (39.5 years). Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton are the 3 CMAs with the lowest median ages.

Saskatoon is the CMA with the youngest population in the country, with a median age of 35.6 years. The arrival of young adults in their twenties, along with a high birth rate, partly accounts for the youth of this CMA.

The two CMAs in Alberta, Calgary (35.7 years) and Edmonton (36.0 years), are ranked second and third respectively. International and interprovincial migration of adults under 40 years old is contributing to a slower aging of the population of theses CMAs.

The two oldest CMAs are in Quebec

As of July 1, 2009, 16 CMAs posted a median age higher than the national average (39.5 years).

Of all CMAs in Canada, the Trois-Rivières CMA is the one with the oldest population, with a median age of 44.9 years. The departure of young people in their twenties and thirties, combined with the arrival of older individuals, is serving to accelerate the aging of this CMA.

Another Quebec CMA, Saguenay, is in second place, with a median age of 44.6 years. Negative net intraprovincial migration among young people in their twenties partly explains the aging of this area.

Figure 1.1: Age pyramid (per thousand) for the CMAs of Trois-Rivières (Quebec) and Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) for July 1, 2009

Figure 1.2: Age pyramid (per thousand) for CMA and non-CMA population for July 1, 2009

The population of CMAs is aging more slowly than the population of non-CMA areas

Between July 1, 2001 and July 1, 2009, the median age of the CMA population changed from 36.7 to 38.6 years, an increase of 1.9 years. The population of non-CMA areas changed from 38.2 years in 2001 to 41.9 years in 2009.

The aging of the CMA population is slower than that recorded for the country as a whole, while the median age of the Canadian population rose from 37.2 years in 2001 to 39.5 years in 2009 (+2.3 years). The median age of the non-CMA population increased more rapidly with a rise of 3.7 years.

The gains recorded by most CMAs in their migratory exchanges at the intraprovincial and interprovincial levels among young adults explain the slower aging of these areas in relation to the country as a whole.

Saguenay, Kingston and Peterborough are aging rapidly

Between July 1, 2001 and July 1, 2009, only two CMAs saw the median age of their population increase by 4 years or more.

The CMAs in which aging was most rapid were Saguenay (median age: +5.0 years), Thunder Bay (median age: +4.5 years) and Peterborough (median age: +3.9 years).

These three CMAs, which were among the 10 least populous CMAs in 2009 and which already have populations whose median age is higher than 42.0 years, are characterized by negative net migration, with young adults tending to leave these areas to settle elsewhere in the country.

Edmonton and Calgary are aging less quickly than other CMAs

The median age of 8 Canadian CMAs increased by less than 2 years between July 1, 2001 and July 1, 2009.

Edmonton (median age: +0.8 years) and Calgary (median age: +0.9 years) are the two CMAs in which the median age increased the least among all CMAs in Canada. They are also the only two CMAs in which the median age increased by less than a year from July 1, 2001 to July 1, 2009. Those two CMAs are attracting large numbers of young adults in their twenties. This is contributing to slow down the aging of their population.

The Saskatoon CMA follows, with an increase in the median age of its population of 1.0 years to reach 35.6 years in 2009. The arrival of young adults in their twenties, along with a high birth rate, partly accounts for the youth of this CMA.

Aging in the three largest CMAs in Canada

Of the country’s three largest CMAs, only the Toronto CMA has a population whose median age (37.8 years) is lower than that of CMAs as a whole. The Vancouver (median age: 39.0 years) and Montréal (median age: 39.2 years) CMAs were slightly older than CMAs as a whole (38.6 years).

From July 1, 2008 to July 1, 2009, the aging of the population of Vancouver (median age: +0.1 years) and Montréal (+0.1 years) was slower than that of the population of Canada as a whole (+0.2 years). Where for the Toronto (+0.2 years) population it was equal. The large number of international migrants, whose median age is lower than that of the Canadian population, is helping to slow down the aging of the population in these large CMAs.