Section 3: Census divisions

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Census divisions (CDs) with the highest growth rates in the past year

Between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 (2013/2014), 55% of the CDs posted positive population growth rates. More specifically, the population increased in 162 of 293 CDs in Canada, remained stable in 22 CDs and decreased in 109 CDs.

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.

Half of the 10 CDs with the strongest growth rates in 2013/2014 were in the Prairies, with most of them located in Alberta (3). During the most recent period, and as has been the case since 2010/2011, the fastest-growing CD in Canada was Division No. 16 (Wood Buffalo) with a growth rate of 40.2 per thousand. The population growth in this CD was almost four times higher than the rate for the entire country (10.9 per thousand) and was attributable to a significant increase in interprovincial migration (38.5 per thousand), which was also the highest in the country. In Alberta, two other CDs stood out for their strong population growth: Division No. 6 (Calgary), ranking fourth (34.3 per thousand), and Division No. 11 (Edmonton), ranking seventh (31.3 per thousand). With a growth rate of 32.2 per thousand, Division No. 10 (Macdonald) in Manitoba was in fifth place and Division No. 11 (Saskatoon) in Saskatchewan ranked eighth with a rate of 30.2 per thousand.

Quebec was home to two CDs with some of the highest growth rates, specifically, Mirabel, ranking second (38.4 per thousand), and La Jacques-Cartier, ranking tenth (27.1 per thousand). These CDs are located on the outskirts of Quebec’s two largest cities, Montréal and Québec respectively.

Two of the top 10 CDs with the fastest growth rates were located in Nunavut: Baffin, ranking third (35.4 per thousand) and Keewatin, in sixth place (31.8 per thousand). Keewatin was also the CD with the highest natural increase in Canada (25.2 per thousand). Lastly, the Peace River CD in British Columbia ranked ninth with a growth rate of 28.2 per thousand. This was the highest average annual growth rate posted by this CD in the past decade. The proportion of the Aboriginal identity population in these three CDs is higher than elsewhere in Canada.

Excluding La Jacques-Cartier (Qc) CD and Division No. 16 (Alta), 7 of the 10 CDs with the strongest population growth in 2013/2014 registered average annual growth rates higher than those of the five-year period from 2009 to 2014. Finally, Division No. 11 (Sask.) had growth comparable to the five-year average.

Census divisions with the highest rates of decline in the past year

During the 2013/2014 period, the Atlantic provinces were home to the largest number of CDs that saw decreases in their population (40 CDs). In Quebec, 36 CDs experienced negative population growth rates. Nevertheless, 8 of the 10 CDs with the biggest rates of decline were located in the Atlantic provinces and the other two in British Columbia. The Nova Scotia CD of Guysborough had the largest rate of decline at -29.8 per thousand and the largest rate of decline attributable to natural increase (-13.2 per thousand). Two other CDs in that province also saw their populations drop significantly, namely Inverness, ranking sixth (-19.5 per thousand) and Shelbourne, ranking tenth (-17.6 per thousand).

New Brunswick’s Victoria CD made it onto the list for a second year in a row, posting a rate of decline of -24.2 per thousand in 2013/2014 and moving from third to second place. Division No. 9 (St. Anthony) in Newfoundland and Labrador was also on the list for the second consecutive year, holding third spot with an average annual rate of -21.7 per thousand. Three other CDs in the Atlantic provinces also stood out for their strong rates of population decline: Queens in New Brunswick, in seventh place (-19.4 per thousand) and Divisions No. 3 (Channel–Port aux Basques) and No. 8 (Lewisport) in Newfoundland and Labrador, in eighth and ninth places (-18.2 per thousand and -17.7 per thousand) respectively.

In Western Canada, the CD that saw the largest decline (with the exception of Stikine, where the small population makes it more sensitive to population variations and which had a rate of decline of -20.7 per thousand) was British Columbia’s Skeena–Queen Charlotte (-20.2 per thousand), ranking in fifth place.

Overall, eight of the 10 CDs that saw the biggest population decreases had net losses in natural increase and in interprovincial migration, and all of these CDs registered negative net intraprovincial migration. Of the CDs in this category, the two CDs in British Columbia and two of the CDs in Newfoundland and Labrador (Division No. 3 and No. 9) saw declines primarily attributable to intraprovincial migration. The decreases in two other Atlantic CDs were mainly the result of negative net interprovincial migration (Division No. 8 in Newfoundland and Labrador and Inverness in Nova Scotia). For the four remaining CDs, two of the components played a more or less equal role in the decline of their populations. The CDs of Guysborough (Nova Scotia) and Queens (New Brunswick) can attribute most of their population decreases to negative natural increase and negative net intraprovincial migration. Finally, for Nova Scotia’s Shelbourne CD and New Brunswick’s Victoria CD, most of the decline in their populations was due to higher interprovincial and intraprovincial migration.

The annual population growth rates of the 10 CDs with the highest declines in population in 2013/2014 were even more negative than the five-year annual rates, with the exception of British Columbia’s Stikine CD.

Figure 3.1 
  Age  pyramids for the CDs with the strongest growth (Division No. 16, Alta.) and  the largest decrease (Guysborough, N.S.), July 1, 2014

Description for figure 3.1

The youngest census divisions

On July 1, 2014, 89 of Canada’s 293 CDs had median ages below the national average (40.4 years). In 82 of these 89 CDs (92%), the proportion of the population under 15 years was larger than the proportion aged 65 and over. Nine of the 10 youngest CDs were located in the provinces and territories west of Ontario. Three of these CDs were in Manitoba, one in Saskatchewan, one in Alberta, three in Nunavut and one in the Northwest Territories. The only CD not located in western Canada and with one of the youngest median ages was the Nord-du-Québec (Qc) CD.

For the purposes of this article, various indicators will be used to measure the aging of a population. The distribution of the population under 15 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.”

In the table of the 10 youngest CDs, the CDs are presented in decreasing order based on their proportion of people under 15 years. In the table showing the 10 oldest CDs, the CDs are ranked in decreasing order based on their proportion of people aged 65 years and over. Although median age is not used to rank the CDs, this indicator will be discussed in the rest of the text.

All of the 10 youngest CDs in Canada on July 1, 2014 were the same as in the previous year. The ranking remained the same for all regions with a minor change for the CDs of Baffin in Nunavut and Region 3 (Behchokò) in the Northwest Territories, which swapped rankings, as did Division No. 18 (La Ronge) in Saskatchewan and the Kitikmeot CD in Nunavut. The Keewatin CD in Nunavut remained the youngest with a median age of 23.5 years and 34.0% of its population aged 14 and under. It was followed by three Manitoba divisions, namely Division No. 23 (Pukatawagan 198), Division No. 22 (Thompson) and Division No. 19 (Peguis 1B) with median ages of 24.0, 24.8 and 25.1 years respectively.

The oldest census divisions

On July 1, 2014, 204 of Canada’s 293 CDs (70%) had median ages that were greater than or equal to the Canadian average (40.4 years). Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia each had two of the oldest CDs in Canada. The remaining two CDs were located in New Brunswick and Manitoba.

As was the case for the youngest CDs, all of the oldest CDs in Canada on July 1, 2014 were on the list the previous year, with the exception of the Queens CD in Nova Scotia, which replaces the Charlevoix (Quebec) CD in 10th place. The median age reached its highest level at 55.5 years in the Haliburton CD in Ontario, making it the oldest CD in Canada for a second consecutive year. In second place was British Columbia’s Okanagan–Similkameen CD, with a median age of 53.1 years. Following these two CDs, Guysborough, Nova Scotia (54.5 years) and Les Basques, Quebec (54.2 years) had the third and fourth highest proportions of people aged 65 years and over.

The number of CDs in which the median age was at least 50 years has increased since July 1, 2013, from 30 to 44. More than half (24) of these CDs are found in Quebec.

Population aging can also be reflected by the distribution of the population by age. Thus, on July 1, 2014, the proportion of people 65 years and over was higher than the proportion of people under 15 years of age in 186 of the 293 CDs (63%). The majority of these CDS were located in provinces in Eastern and Central Canada.

As in previous years, Atlantic Canada continued to have the largest proportion of CDs where the 65-and-over population outnumbered the 14-and-under population (42 of 47, or 89%). The senior population exceeded the youth population in 74 of 98 CDs (76%) in Quebec and in 35 of 49 CDs in Ontario (71%). In contrast, in the Prairie provinces, seniors exceeded the youth population in just over one-quarter of the CDs (16 of 60, or 27%). In this regard, Alberta stood out clearly from the rest of Canada with its 0-to-14 population exceeding the population 65 years and over in all of the province’s 19 CDs. The trend in the territories was similar to that of Alberta. All of the CDs in the three territories had a higher proportion of young people under 15 years than persons aged 65 years and over (10 of 10). Finally, the proportion of persons aged 65 years and older was higher than the proportion of the population under 15 years of age in 66% of the CDs (19 of 29) in British Columbia.

Figure 3.2 
  Age  pyramids for the CDs with the highest proportion of people aged 65 and over  (Haliburton, Ont.) and the highest proportion of young people between 0 and 14  years (Keewatin, Nvt.), July 1, 2014

Description for figure 3.2

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