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91-215-XWE
Annual Demographic Estimates: Canada, Provinces and Territories
2005-2006


Analysis

On July 1, 2006, the population of Canada was estimated at 32,623,500, an increase of 324,000 compared with the same date in 2005. At 10.0 per 1,000, last year’s growth rate is near the average of 10.2 per 1,000 seen since the beginning of the millenium.

The rate of natural increase, estimated at 3.3 per 1,000 in 2005/2006, is similar to that for the previous year. While the rate has been fairly stable since the beginning of the millennium, it is nevertheless characterized over the long term by a decrease that began in the early 1990s.

As a result, net international migration is assuming growing importance as a prime engine of population growth in Canada. In 2005/2006, two-thirds (66.5%) of the increase in the nation's population was due to population exchanges between Canada and the rest of the world. This percentage has remained consistently above 60.0% since 1999/2000. Comparatively, net international migration accounted for 46.0% of Canada's population growth in the nineties and for 34.8% in the eighties.

Chart 1Components of annual demographic growth, 1971/1972 to 2005/2006,
Canada

Population growth in Canada is currently slightly exceeding what it is measured for the United States. In 2004/2005, the last year for which American data are available, population in the U.S. grew at a rate of 9.3 per 1,000 while Canada’s rate was at 9.6. Moreover, net international migration as a factor in population growth is much more significant in our country than it is in the U.S. In 2004/2005, net international migration explained about two thirds of the Canadian demographic growth while it accounted for only 38.1% in U.S. Our neighbours to the south rely on a much stronger birth rate to increase their population than Canadians currently do.

According to the average growth scenarios derived from the most recent population projections published by Statistics Canada (Catalogue no 91-520), the number of deaths would exceed the number of births around 2030. Thereafter, net international migration will become the only source of population growth in Canada.

A sustained immigration

In 2005/2006, Canada welcomed 254,400 immigrants, a peak since 2001/2002 (256,300), and 9,800 more than the previous year. Canada's immigration rate (7.8 per 1,000) has increased for the third consecutive year, and is the highest since 2001/2002 (8.2 per 1,000).

A vast majority of immigrants still settles in one of the three largest provinces of the country (Ontario, Québec and British Columbia). Last year, 86.1% of newcomers chose one of these three provinces. This proportion is somewhat decreasing since the 2001/2002 high (89.7%).

This decrease is mainly explained by a decrease of the Ontario’s draw for new immigrants.The attraction that Ontario holds for new Canadians has been diminishing since it peaked in the early 2000s (59.6% in 2001/2002), and has never been as low since 1993/1994 (51.1%).

An uneven population growth

During the 2005/2006 year, four jurisdictions posted a demographic growth higher than the national average: Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Nunavut. Conversely, five jurisdictions recorded population losses: Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The last year was marked by a strong increase of the Alberta net interprovincial migration which, supported by a booming economy, reached a record high of 57,100 persons. It is 22,700 more than last year. The former record was 46,000 in 1980/1981, during the first oil boom. Over the last year, net interprovincial migration to Alberta accounted for 58.2% of the province's total growth. Moreover, Alberta is posting the highest natural growth amongst all provinces.

Because of this strong population influx from other Canadian areas, Alberta's population growth rate (29.5 per 1,000) was almost three times higher than the rate for Canada as a whole.

Nevertheless, international migration attenuated the effects of the Alberta draw in certain regions. During the last year, net international migration was the main demographic factor for eight of the 10 provinces.

Hence, British Columbia also experienced growth (12.3 per 1,000) above the national rate, thanks in particular to an increase in international migration, which accounted for 72.1% of its total growth. The number of new arrivals in the province (43,900) has increased for the third consecutive year and had not been this high since 1996/1997 (53,200), at a time when there was a significant influx of immigrants from Hong Kong. This increase made British Columbia moved back into second place as an immigrant destination, overtaking Quebec for the first time since 2000/2001.

Manitoba also experienced growth (3.1 per 1,000), mainly as a result of its net international migration. Over the course of last year, the province accepted 8,900 immigrants, a historic high. Manitoba’s immigration rate (7.6 per 1,000) is the third highest in the country.

Because of its losses to other provinces, particularly Alberta, Saskatchewan recorded a deficit (-4.6 per 1,000) for the ninth time in the last 10 years (See chart 2 ).

In central Canada, Ontario (10.2 per 1,000) grew at a rate similar to that of the rest of the country, again because of an immigration rate (10.5 per 1,000) which is the highest in the country. Ontario’s draw for new immigrants offset growing losses from interprovincial migration.

Quebec's population growth rate was slightly lower at 7.1 per 1,000. However, Quebec’s birth rate is rising. Data for 2005/2006 show that the number of births in Quebec (78,500) has not been as high since 1996/1997 (82,900). Moreover, Quebec attracted 42 000 immigrants over the last year. If this number is decreasing for a second year in a row, it stays much higher that what was observed since the beginning of the 1990’s (51,600 in 1991/1992).

Chart 2Population growth rates, 2004/2005 and 2005/2006, Canada,
provinces and territories

In Atlantic Canada, only Prince Edward Island had a positive rate of increase (2.5 per 1,000). The other three provinces lost population at various rates: Newfoundland and Labrador (-8.4 per 1,000), New Brunswick (-3.1 per 1,000) and Nova Scotia (-1.8 per 1,000). These three provinces lost population as a result of negative net interprovincial migration and a lower rate of natural increase than the rest of Canada.

Newfoundland and Labrador, with a decrease in population for the 14th consecutive year, is the first Canadian jurisdiction to record more deaths than births during a year, and there seems to be no sign, in the short term, of change for this situation. Moreover, if current trends continue, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia should experience the same phenomenon in the years ahead.

Of the northern Territories, Nunavut is distinguished by a growth rate of 24.4 per 1,000, well above the Canadian average. This marked increase is due essentially to a fertility rate (more than three children per woman) that is double the national rate. Largely because of their growing losses to interprovincial migration, Yukon (3.5 per 1,000) had its slowest growth in the last four years, while the Northwest Territories (-18.2 per 1,000) showed negative population growth for the first time since 1997/1998 (-19.9 per 1,000) (See chart 3 ).

Interprovincial migration affected by the lure of Alberta

The record demographic movement (+57,100) to Alberta in 2005/2006 has affected the demographics of other regions in Canada. For example, 10 jurisdictions out of 13 showed a negative balance in interprovincial migration. In addition to Alberta, British Columbia (+3,800) and Nunavut (+100) showed increases in their exchanges with other regions. Were it not for interprovincial migration, all the jurisdictions that recorded deficits would have shown positive population growth.

Because of this increase in Alberta’s gains from other provinces, interprovincial losses for most of the jurisdictions showing a deficit in 2004/2005 were aggravated in 2005/2006. In the case of Ontario, losses almost doubled, from -11,200 to -21,400, a figure that had not been seen since 1980-1981 (-33,900). The negative balance recorded by Nova Scotia (-3,900) was unprecedented. New Brunswick (-3,800) had not dealt with such a large loss (-5,000) since 1980-1981. Manitoba and Saskatchewan had not experienced such losses since the beginning of the 1990s. In British Columbia, increases fell by half, from 8,200 to 3,800. Only Prince Edward Island and Nunavut, which had higher net positive interprovincial migration in 2005/2006 than it did the year before, seem not to have been affected by this stronger pull towards Alberta.

Chart 3Demographic growth rates by component, 2005/2006, Canada, provinces
and territories

Proportionally, the Northwest Territories decreased the most, with a net interprovincial migration rate of -31.4 per 1,000. Saskatchewan came next (-9.2 per 1,000), followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (-8.5 per 1,000) and Manitoba (-7.3 per 1,000).

In 2005/2006, Alberta was the region of choice for migrants from seven of the other 12 Canadian jurisdictions. In all other cases, it came second among preferred destinations. The neighbouring regions were the most affected. Thus, more than half of interprovincial migrants from the Northwest Territories (50.3%), British Columbia (58.1%) and Saskatchewan (62.8%) moved to Alberta.

Ontario was favoured by migrants from Quebec (58.0%), Nova Scotia (31.2%), Prince-Edward Island (24.6%) and Nunavut (21.2%). British Columbia was the destination for migrants who left Alberta (43.3%) and the Yukon (37.9%).

If Alberta is excluded from the interprovincial migration picture, British Columbia is the province showing the strongest net increase (+11,300). After British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador (+600), Prince Edward Island (+400), Nova Scotia (+200), the Yukon (+100) and Nunavut (+100) are the other jurisdictions—apart from Alberta—to have gained more interprovincial migrants than they lost.



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