Section 1: Census metropolitan areas

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On July 1, 2014, 24,858,600 people, or almost 7 in 10 Canadians (69.9%), were living in a census metropolitan area (CMA). Canada's three largest CMAs alone—Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver—were home to more than 1 in 3 Canadians (35.3%).

Between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 (2013/2014 period), the total population of the Toronto and Montréal CMAs reached important milestones. The 6 million threshold was broken in the Toronto CMA, while the Montréal CMA passed the 4 million mark. On July 1, 2014, the Toronto CMA had a population of 6,055,700 and the Montréal CMA 4,027,100.

The population growth rate was far higher in CMAs (14.1 per thousand) than in non-CMAs (3.6 per thousand) in 2013/2014. For a third consecutive year, the four fastest growing CMAs were in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Among Canada's CMAs, Calgary recorded the strongest population growth (35.5 per thousand) between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. Saint John was the only CMA that saw a decline in its population (-5.3 per thousand). Overall, the growth of CMAs was slightly lower during the 2013/2014 period (14.1 per thousand) than during the 2012/2013 period (15.1 per thousand), a trend similar to that observed for the country as a whole.

For the rest of this analysis, a rate higher than -1 per thousand and lower than 1 per thousand is considered to be nil or low. Rates are based on the ratio of the number of events during the period (t, t+x) to the average of the populations at the beginning and end of the period. Five-year rates are annualized. Preliminary postcensal estimates are subject to revision. Future updates could affect trend analysis.

CMA growth unequal from east to west

In the Atlantic provinces, the highest population growth during the 2013/2014 period was recorded in the St. John's CMA (11.9 per thousand). The population growth rates in the CMAs of Moncton (11.5 per thousand) and Halifax (10.7 per thousand) were similar to the national average (10.9 per thousand). In contrast, the only CMA in the country to see a significant decline in its population was in the Atlantic provinces, namely Saint John, New Brunswick, with a negative population growth rate of -5.3 per thousand, representing a decrease of 700 persons.

In Quebec, the CMAs of the Quebec portion of Ottawa–Gatineau (11.1 per thousand) and Montréal (10.6 per thousand) posted population growth rates similar to the Canadian average, while the growth rates for the Sherbrooke CMA (9.3 per thousand), Québec CMA (7.7 per thousand) and Trois-Rivières CMA (4.5 per thousand) were lower than the national average. The population of the Saguenay CMA remained relatively stable (-0.8 per thousand) during the last period.

In Ontario, the population of four of 15 CMAs grew at a rate above the national rate. The Toronto CMA (14.9 per thousand) posted the strongest population growth in the province. However, it was the lowest population growth rate in that CMA since the early 1990s. The CMAs of Oshawa (13.3 per thousand) and Barrie (12.2 per thousand) and the Ontario portion of the Ottawa–Gatineau CMA (11.8 per thousand) also saw their populations grow at a rate above the national average.

In keeping with the population trends observed at the provincial level, the Prairie region stood out for its strong population growth. The five CMAs in the Prairie provinces all posted higher population growth rates than that of Canada. In addition, during the same period, the population growth rates of the CMAs of Calgary (35.5 per thousand), Edmonton (32.5 per thousand) and Saskatoon (32.3 per thousand) were three times higher than the Canadian average.

In British Columbia, the populations of the Kelowna and Vancouver CMAs grew at a steadier rate than that of Canada, posting growth rates of 17.8 per thousand and 12.8 per thousand respectively. The Victoria and Abbotsford–Mission CMAs had low population growth rates (3.0 per thousand and 2.7 per thousand, respectively), down when compared to the average of the past five years.

Population growth rates by census metropolitan area, Canada

Description for chart 1.1

Prairie CMAs continue to post the strongest population growth in the country

For a third consecutive year, the four Alberta and Saskatchewan CMAs topped the list for population gains. With an increase of 49,100 people, the Calgary CMA posted the largest population growth in the country, with a population of 1,406,700 on July 1, 2014. Second-place Edmonton CMA had a total of 1,328,290 residents on the same date, up 42,500 people from the previous year. The population of the Saskatoon CMA broke the 300,000 mark during the 2013/2014 period, reaching 300,600 on July 1, 2014, an increase of 9,600 people from the previous year. In the Regina CMA, an additional 6,500 inhabitants during the same period brought the CMA's total population up to 237,800.

In Saskatchewan's two CMAs, strong population growth was mainly the result of international migration. The populations of Alberta's two CMAs also grew as a result of this, but also benefitted from substantial gains in interprovincial migration exchanges. These exchanges resulted in net increases of 13,900 people for the Calgary CMA and 13,500 people for the Edmonton CMA.

Population declines in the non-CMAs of several provinces and in Saint John

Although Canada's overall population increased, as did the populations of almost all CMAs, some regions of the country did see their populations shrink.

For a second consecutive year, the population of the Saint John CMA fell, losing 700 people (-5.3 per thousand) between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. Gains from natural increase (+100) and net international migration (+500) were not enough to offset net population losses due to interprovincial migration (-1,300).

In non-CMAs, population decreases were recorded in Newfoundland and Labrador (-3,700, or -11.8 per thousand), Nova Scotia (-4,700 people, or -8.8 per thousand), New Brunswick (-2,700 people, or -5.6 per thousand) and the Northwest Territories (-200 people, or -5.0 per thousand). These population losses were mainly due to negative interprovincial migration. For the three provinces, negative intraprovincial migration and more deaths than births also contributed to the losses.

Population growth rates of the three largest census metropolitan areas, Canada

Description for chart 1.2

Toronto CMA now has more than 6 million inhabitants and the Montréal CMA more than 4 million

Of Canada's three largest CMAs, Toronto posted the strongest population growth during the 2013/2014 period. A population growth rate of 14.9 per thousand enabled the CMA to pass the 6 million mark for a total of 6,055,700 residents on July 1, 2014. During the same period, the Montréal CMA grew by 42,700 inhabitants (10.6 per thousand), bringing its total to 4,027,100. Lastly, the population of the Vancouver CMA reached 2,470,300 on July 1, 2014, up 31,500 (12.8 per thousand) from the previous year. The combined population growth of the three largest CMAs (13.1 per thousand) was lower than that recorded by all CMAs (14.1 per thousand), but higher than that of Canada as a whole (10.9 per thousand). The Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver CMAs accounted for 44%, 49% and 53%, respectively, of the total population of their respective provinces. Canada's three largest CMAs had a total combined population of 12.6 million on July 1, 2014, or more than 1 in 3 Canadians (35.3%).

In each of the three largest Canadian CMAs, international migration was the main engine of population growth, generating gains of 79,500 in the Toronto CMA, 39,100 in Montréal and 31,500 in Vancouver. However, the proportion of immigrants who settled in one of these three CMAs is on the decline. During the 2013/2014 period, 58% of immigrants settling in Canada did so in the Toronto, Montréal or Vancouver CMA, compared with 72% in 2003/2004. This decline has mainly benefitted the five Prairie CMAs, where a growing proportion of immigrants are settling (21% in 2013/2014 compared with 9% in 2003/2004).

Lastly, the Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver CMAs were notable for their negative net intraprovincial migration. For a third consecutive year, they were the only three CMAs in Canada to have registered significant population losses attributable to migration exchanges with the rest of their province. Net losses on account of this factor were -21,100 for the Toronto CMA, -7,100 for the Montréal CMA and -3,500 for the Vancouver CMA.

Factors of population growth by census metropolitan area, Canada, 2013/2014

Description for chart 1.3

For the purposes of this article, various indicators will be used to measure the aging of a population. The distribution of the population aged 0 to 14 years and 65 years and over and the median age will be the indicators considered. The median age is an age "x� that divides the population into two equal groups, such that one contains only those individuals older than "x� and the other those younger than "x.�

Population of CMAs younger than the rest of Canada

On July 1, 2014, the median age of the population residing in a CMA was 39.2 years. By comparison, the median age of the non-CMA population was higher at 43.6 years.

The age structure of CMA and non-CMA populations differs mainly in terms of the demographic weight of the age groups above 15 years, as the age pyramid in Figure 1.1 shows. On the one hand, the group of persons aged 65 and over accounted for 18.4% of the non-CMA population, compared with 14.5% of those in CMAs. On the other hand, Figure 1.1 shows that persons aged 20 to 49 represented a larger portion of the population of CMAs than of non-CMAs. This situation is the result of young adults migrating from non-CMA regions to CMAs, as well as a greater influx of immigrants into CMAs.

In addition, the number of persons aged 65 and over exceeded the number of persons aged 0 to 14 in half of Canada's 34 CMAs on July 1, 2014.

Age pyramid for CMA and non-CMA population, July 1, 2014

Description for figure 1.1

The CMAs with the youngest populations are in Western Canada

On July 1, 2014, Canada's four CMAs with the lowest median age were in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Saskatoon had the lowest median age at 34.5 years. For comparison, this is almost six years less than the median age for Canada (40.4 years). The Abbotsford–Mission CMA in British Columbia was also notable for its young population, posting the largest proportion of persons under age 15 at 18.2%. The Calgary CMA was also one of the youngest CMAs in Canada. In addition to having the third lowest median age (36.1 years), this CMA had the lowest proportion of persons aged 65 years and over (10.1%) as well as second largest proportion of persons aged 0 to 14 years (17.7%).

Median age by census metropolitan area, Canada, July 1, 2014

Description for chart 1.4

Distribution of population by age group and census metropolitan area, Canada, July 1, 2014

Description for chart 1.5

Trois-Rivières CMA has the oldest population

With respect to median age, on July 1, 2014, the oldest population was in the Trois-Rivières CMA (45.8 years), followed by the Saguenay CMA (45.2 years) and the St. Catharines–Niagara CMA (45.0 years).

Among Canada's 34 CMAs, the Trois-Rivières CMA also had the highest proportion of persons aged 65 years and over at 20.9%. The Peterborough and St. Catharines–Niagara CMAs had the second and third highest proportion of persons aged 65 years and over at 20.8% and 20.5% respectively.

Figure 1.2 Age pyramid for the CMAs with the highest proportion of people aged 65 and over (Trois-Rivières, Quebec) and with the highest proportion of people under 15 years (Abbotsford–Mission, British Columbia), July 1, 2014

Description for figure 1.2

Figure 1.2 compares the age pyramid for the Abbotsford–Mission CMA, where the proportion of young persons aged 0 to 14 years is the highest, with the pyramid for Trois-Rivières, which has the largest proportion of persons aged 65 years and over. The top of the pyramid, which is narrower for Abbotsford–Mission than for Trois-Rivières, indicates a population with a much older age structure in the latter CMA. The wider base of the pyramid for the Abbotsford–Mission CMA indicates that children account for a much larger proportion of the population in this CMA.

Fastest aging CMAs in Quebec and Ontario

Even though the populations of CMAs are younger than in the rest of Canada, these populations are also aging. The median age of the population of CMAs rose by 1.7 years between July 1, 2004 and July 1, 2014. Also, the proportion of persons aged 65 years and over went from 12.2% to 14.5% during the same period, an increase of 2.3 percentage points.

An increase in the median age, combined with an increase in the proportion of persons aged 65 years and over, was observed in almost all of Canada's CMAs. The three most significant increases in the proportion of persons aged 65 and over between 2004 and 2014 were recorded in the Quebec CMAs of Saguenay (+5.3 percentage points), Trois-Rivières (+5.1 percentage points) and Québec (+4.6 percentage points). Over the past decade, the median age increased the most in the Ontario CMAs of Windsor (+4.7 years) and St. Catharines–Niagara (+4.3 years).

Lastly, the five Prairie CMAs stood out on account of their population aging more slowly than in the rest of Canada. In each of these CMAs, the increase in the proportion of the population aged 65 years between 2004 and 2014 was no more than 1.1 percentage points, compared with +2.8 percentage points for Canada, and the rise in the median age over the same period was 1.0 years at most, compared with +2.0 years nationally.

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