Section 1: Census metropolitan areas

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On July 1, 2010, 23,573,773 people lived in a census metropolitan area (CMA). That is, just over two thirds (69.1%) of the population lived in one of Canada's CMAs.

Between July 1, 2009, and July 1, 2010, the population growth rate was far higher in CMAs (14.7 per thousand) than in non-CMAs (4.3 per thousand). For Canada as a whole, the population growth rate was 11.5 per thousand.

The populations of the Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver CMAs totalled nearly 12 million. In other words, more than half of Canada's CMA population lived in one of the three major centres.

The Saskatoon (27.7 per thousand), Vancouver (22.9 per thousand) and Regina (22.3 per thousand) CMAs had the highest growth rates in the country. In contrast, there were population declines in the Windsor (-3.4 per thousand) and Greater Sudbury (-1.3 per thousand) CMAs.

Saskatchewan's CMAs grow faster than Alberta'sCMAs

The populations of the Saskatoon and Regina CMAs grew at a relatively fast pace in the 2009/2010 period. In terms of population growth, the two CMAs ranked first and third at the national level.

With a growth rate of 27.7 per thousand, the Saskatoon CMA's population increased by 7,240 to a total of 265,259 last year. The Regina CMA had a population of 215,138 on July 1, 2010, up 4,754 from the previous year.

Net international migration was responsible for the largest proportion of the growth in Saskatchewan's two CMAs. In fact, nearly half of the population increase was attributable to that factor. Saskatoon's international migration gain totalled 3,327. For the sake of comparison, that was higher than the international migration gains of CMAs that were much more populous than Saskatoon, such as Hamilton and Québec.

Population growth in Alberta's CMAs slows but remainshigh

While the population of Alberta's CMAs continued to grow, the pace of growth slowed slightly in 2009/2010. For example, Calgary's population increased by 22,262 last year, compared with just over 30,000 in each of the previous two periods. The same was true for Edmonton, as last year's increase of 19,852 was about one-third smaller than the previous year's growth.

In 2009/2010, the two CMAs ranked fifth and seventh respectively on the list of Canada's fastest-growing CMAs. In contrast, between 2005 and 2009, Calgary and Edmonton were invariably in the top four. Even so, the growth rates of Alberta's CMAs (18.1 per thousand for Calgary and 17.0 per thousand for Edmonton) were above the average for Canada's CMAs (14.7 per thousand).

Although net international migration was down substantially compared with the previous year, it still accounted for an appreciable share of the Alberta CMAs' growth. Net international migration, the leading factor in Calgary's population growth, fell to second place in Edmonton, behind natural increase. Net interprovincial migration was sharply lower in 2009/2010. In both CMAs, it hovered around zero in 2009/2010, compared with nearly 5,000 in 2008/2009.

Population decline for the Windsor and Greater Sudbury CMAs

Population growth varied widely across Canada's CMAs. While the average growth rate for Canadian CMAs was 14.7 per thousand, some CMAs stood out because their populations decreased in the 2009/2010 period. That was the case for the Windsor (-3.4 per thousand) and Greater Sudbury (-1.3 per thousand) CMAs.

The declines were due to net losses in internal migration exchanges. While there were population gains from natural increase and international migration, they were too small to offset the two CMAs' deficits in interprovincial and subprovincial exchanges.

The East-West divide persists

Almost all the CMAs in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had population growth rates higher than the national average (11.5 per thousand). Only the Kelowna (4.1 per thousand) and Victoria (11.3 per thousand) CMAs experienced more moderate growth than Canada as a whole.

In contrast, only nine of the 25 CMAs in Eastern and Central Canada (Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces) had growth rates above 11.5 per thousand. Even fewer CMAs in the eastern part of the country posted growth rates higher than the average for Canadian CMAs (14.7 per thousand). Only the populations of the Toronto (18.8 per thousand), Moncton (17.7 per thousand) and Ottawa-Gatineau (16.8 per thousand) CMAs increased faster than the Canadian CMA average. The high growth rates of the Moncton and Ottawa-Gatineau CMAs were due to a combination of natural increase and net gains in the three types of migration exchanges (international, interprovincial and subprovincial).

Among eastern and central Canadian CMAs, the smallest growth rates were observed in those with populations of less than 500,000.

More than nine out of ten international immigrants settlein a metropolitan area

Last year, 92% of Canada's international immigrants settled in CMAs, while the remaining 8% went to non-CMAs, although the non-CMA population accounts for 31% of the population of Canada.

While the proportion of immigrants who settled in non-CMAs remained small, it rose throughout the last decade. In the early 2000s, about 5% of immigrants decided to settle in non-CMAs.

In 2009/2010, the proportion of international immigrants who went to Calgary (6.0%), Winnipeg (3.8%) and Edmonton (3.5%) remained low compared with major centres such as Toronto (33.9%), Montréal (15.9%) and Vancouver (14.0%). Together, the latter CMAs took in nearly two thirds of all new immigrants. However, that predominance masks the considerable progress made by CMAs in Western Canada. In a number of cases, the number of international immigrants received each year doubled since the beginning of the 2000s. Ten years ago, some 9,000 international immigrants settled in Calgary each year. The figure for the 2009/2010 period was 16,000. The Winnipeg and Edmonton CMAs each welcomed about 3,000 to 4,000 immigrants at the beginning of the current decade. The most recent data for 2009/2010 show that nearly 10,000 newcomers chose to make their homes in each CMA.

The CMAs are aging, but more slowly than the rest of Canada

On July 1, 2010, the median age was 38.7 years for the population living in one of Canada's 33 CMAs, compared with 39.7 years in Canada as a whole.

During the period from July 1, 2001, to July 1, 2010, the median age of the CMA population increased by 2.0 years, from 36.7 years to 38.7 years. The median age in non-CMAs was 42.3 years on July 1, 2010, compared with 38.2 years on July 1, 2001.

These trends indicate that, although aging affects all parts of Canada, it is not occurring uniformly across the country. For example, the population was aging faster in non-CMAs than in CMAs, as shown by the fact that the increase in the median age was twice as large in non-CMAs (+4.1 years) as in CMAs (+2.0 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".

Alberta and Saskatchewan CMAs have the youngest populations

Just as in demographic growth, there also appeared to be an East-West divide in the relative age of CMAs: the younger CMAs were mostly in Western Canada, while the CMAs with older populations were generally in the eastern part of the country.

On July 1, 2010, Saskatoon was the CMA with the youngest population. The median age was 35.4 years, compared with 39.7 years for Canada as a whole. After Saskatoon, the CMAs with the lowest median ages were Calgary (35.8 years), Edmonton (36.0 years) and Regina (36.9 years).

Trois-Rivières and Saguenay are the two oldest CMAsin Canada

The median age in the Saguenay and Trois-Rivière CMAs was 45.0 years, higher than in any other Canadian CMA.

In addition to Trois-Rivières and Saguenay, the Québec and Sherbrooke CMAs had median ages above the Canadian average. The only CMAs in Quebec with median ages below the national average were Montréal and Ottawa-Gatineau. In the Atlantic Provinces, three of the four CMAs had median ages higher than the Canadian average. The only exception was the Halifax CMA, whose median age was slightly lower than the median age for Canada as a whole.

Figure 1.1: Population pyramid for the CMAs with the highest median age (Saguenay, Quebec) and with the lowest median age (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) for July 1, 2010

Figure 1.2: Population pyramid for CMA and non-CMA population for July 1, 2010

Saguenay, Thunder Bay and Peterborough continue aging rapidly

In addition to having relatively high median ages, the Saguenay, Thunder Bay and Peterborough CMAs are also noteworthy for the pace at which they were aging. Between July 1, 2001, and July 1, 2010, the median age increased by 5.5 years in Saguenay, 4.7 years in Thunder Bay and 4.3 years in Peterborough.

All three CMAs had fairly small populations; in fact, Peterborough and Thunder Bay were the least populous CMAs. Moreover, in both CMAs, there were more deaths than births, a sign of more rapid aging.

Saskatchewan's CMAs remain young

Between July 1, 2001, and July 1, 2010, there was very little increase in the median ages of Saskatchewan's two CMAs. The increase was just 0.8 years for Saskatoon and 0.9 years for Regina. Edmonton was the only other Canadian CMA with an increase of less than one year in its median age.

In each of the three CMAs, there were far more births than deaths. They also posted net gains in international, interprovincial and subprovincial migration. This was beneficial in every respect, helping to slow the population aging process.