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Annual Demographic Estimates: Canada, Provinces and Territories



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The 2nd quarter of 2008 marked the end of the 2007/2008 demographic year. On July 1, 2008, Canada’s population was estimated at 33,311,400, up 384,000 compared to July 1st of the previous year.

Over the 12-month period leading up to July 1, 2008, Canada’s population rose by 1.2%. This was the strongest growth observed since 1991/1992. Canada’s population growth rate was up for a fifth consecutive year.

High international net migration

The rise in the rate of Canada’s population growth in 2007/2008 is mainly attributed to a strong increase in international net migration. During that period, Canada’s gains from its population exchanges with the rest of the world came to 257,100, a level that had only been surpassed once (292,100 in 1988/1989) according to the historical series starting in 1971/1972.

This increase in net international migration is a result of both a rise in the number of immigrants and of a marked augmentation in the number of non-permanent residents.

In 2007/2008, Canada took in 249,600 immigrants, up 11,478 compared to the year before. While the number of immigrants in the previous year remained well below the peak reached in 1992/1993 (266,900), it was nonetheless higher than the annual average of 235,100 observed in the previous five years (2002/2003 to 2006/2007).

Chart 1 Annual factors of demographic growth, 1973/1974 to 2007/2008, Canada

British Columbia was the province with the highest immigration rate (9.9 per thousand). This was the first year since 1998/1999 that it has had the highest immigration rate among provinces. The other provinces whose rates surpassed Canada’s (7.5 per thousand) included Prince Edward Island (9.2 per thousand), Manitoba (8.9 per thousand) and Ontario (8.9 per thousand). In 2007/2008, immigration reached new highs in Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The number of non-permanent residents—also referred to as temporary residents—was also up. In 2007/2008, this number increased by 50,100, a level not observed since the end of the 1980s. Since 2003-2004, the number of non-permanent residents in the country increased by 111,200.

The sharpest increase in the number of non-permanent residents was in Alberta (5.4 per thousand). The increase was also significant in British Columbia (2.9 per thousand), the Yukon Territory (3.3 per thousand) and Prince Edward Island (1.7 per thousand), the only other jurisdictions to have posted a higher rate than Canada as a whole (1.5 per thousand). The increase in the number of non-permanent residents reached levels never before seen in the four western provinces, in Prince Edward Island and in the Yukon Territory.

Natural growth on the rise

Canada’s natural growth was also on the rise. In 2007/2008, this increase was estimated at 126,900, the highest since 1997/1998 (127,400). The country’s natural growth had been rising steadily since reaching a historical low of 106,600 in 2002/2003.

The number of births in Canada was estimated as 364,100 for 2007/2008, up 6,800 compared to the year before. The number of births had been rising constantly since its historical low of 327,100 in 2000/2001. At 11.0 per thousand, Canada’s crude birth rate was up slightly for a third consecutive year. Not since 1999/2000 had there been a higher rate.

Nunavut had the highest birth rate. At 25.1 per thousand, it was more than double the Canadian rate. Among the provinces, Alberta was in the lead, with a rate of 13.4 per thousand. Quebec (11.1 per thousand), Manitoba (12.3 per thousand) and Saskatchewan (12.6 per thousand) also posted birth rates above the national level.

The birth rate rose in several parts of the country, particularly in Quebec and Alberta. This was the fifth consecutive year that Quebec’s birth rate rose. The last time it surpassed the 2007/2008 level was in 1996/1997. Alberta’s 2007/2008 birth rate was the highest observed since 1995/1996.

As expected with an aging population, the number of deaths was also up. In 2007/2008, the number of deaths in the country was estimated at 237,200, a rise of 4,700. Canada’s crude death rate is now at 7.2 per thousand.

The crude death rate is higher in provinces with a larger proportion of older people, such as Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan. It is lower in the younger jurisdictions, such as the Northwest Territories and Alberta.

Stronger population growth in the west

With the exception of the Northwest Territories, the population of every jurisdiction in the country increased in 2007/2008. However, population growth remained stronger in the west. Canada’s four western provinces all posted growth above the country’s level. Prince Edward Island was the only province east of Ontario to experience the same situation.

Despite a decline in its interprovincial net migration, which was the lowest since 1995/1996, Alberta remained, for a seventh consecutive year, the province with the strongest population growth. In 2007/2008, the province’s population rose by 2.1%, which was lower than for the past three years, but almost twice that for Canada.

Alberta’s interprovincial migration losses in 2007/2008 were mainly in favour of its neighbours, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, to which it lost close to 13,000 people. With the rest of the country, Alberta’s interprovincial net migration was largely positive (22,900). In comparison, Alberta’s interprovincial migration balance for 2005/2006, at the height of the boom, was largely positive with all jurisdictions.

In addition to its natural growth, which was the highest among the provinces, Alberta now has one of the highest levels of international net migration in the country. Alberta’s international net migration has been rising constantly since 2002/2003.

Chart 2 Population growth rates, 2006/2007 and 2007/2008, Canada, provinces and territories

In 2007/2008, British Columbia posted the second highest growth among the country’s provinces, after Alberta. This was the strongest rate for the province since 1996/1997. British Columbia’s rate of population growth rose for a sixth consecutive year.

Lower interprovincial net migration compared to the previous year did not prevent British Columbia’s population from increasing, in part thanks to a slight increase in natural growth and a record increase in its international net migration.

Saskatchewan’s population growth in 2007/2008 was the strongest since 1971-1972. The province’s population grew for a second consecutive year, a first since the mid-1990s. In addition to recording its strongest natural growth since 1999/2000, this province also posted record international and interprovincial net migrations in 2007/2008.

It should be noted that Saskatchewan led all the other Canadian provinces in 2007/2008 in terms of the rate of interprovincial migration, a first for this province. This was the first time since 1996/1997 that Alberta was surpassed in this regard.

Manitoba’s population posted its strongest growth since 1982/1983. This growth was based on a combination of factors. Although slightly lower than for the previous year, Manitoba’s international net migration remained one of the highest in the country. As well, the province posted its highest natural growth since 1997/1998. Finally, in 2007/2008 its losses from interprovincial migration fell sharply, registering the lowest level since 1983/1984, the last year in which Manitoba posted a gain from interprovincial migration.

The Atlantic provinces are growing

For the first time since 1991/1992, the population grew in every Atlantic province. They took advantage of the downturn in Alberta’s attraction, as well as an increase in their international net migration.

The population of Newfoundland and Labrador rose in 2007/2008, a first since 1991/1992. The province’s growth can be attributed to an increase in its migratory balances. It had its first interprovincial migration surplus since 1982/1983. Compared to the previous year, its interprovincial net migration rose from a deficit of 4,100 people to a gain of 1,300. In addition, Newfoundland and Labrador posted its strongest international net migration since 1988/1989.

Prince Edward Island dominated the Atlantic provinces with a growth rate of 1.2%, its strongest population growth since 1977/1978. A record international migration balance and its strongest interprovincial gains since 2003/2004 accounted for the province’s sustained growth. Prince Edward Island’s international net migration was up for a fifth consecutive year.

Nova Scotia posted its strongest population growth since 2002/2003. This growth was a result of its highest international net migration since 1995/1996 and of smaller losses from interprovincial migration.

The population of New Brunswick posted its strongest growth since 1991/1992. Like its neighbour, Nova Scotia, this province’s 2007/2008 growth was the result of a rise in its international net migration—the highest since 1975/1976—and of a significant decrease in its losses from interprovincial migration.

At the centre

Despite higher growth than the year before, Ontario’s population rose at a slower pace than that of the country for a second consecutive year. An increase in international net migration and interprovincial losses slightly lower than the year before accounted for this rise.

Quebec’s population growth was the highest since 1990/1991. More births and an increase in international net migration—the highest since 1988/1989—accounted for this situation.

It is interesting to note that the central provinces (Ontario and Quebec) were the ones with the most negative rates of interprovincial migration among all provinces. While Alberta’s attraction had less of an impact elsewhere in the country, these two provinces continued to be clear losers in their interprovincial exchanges with Alberta.

Quebec was the only province whose migration deficit with Alberta rose in 2007/2008 compared to the previous year. And although Ontario’s deficit with Alberta was less than in 2007/2008, close to 85% of its interprovincial migration net losses were nonetheless due to its exchanges with that province.

In the north

For the first time since 2002/2003, the Yukon moved ahead of Nunavut in terms of the rate of population growth in the territories. In addition to posting the strongest interprovincial migration gains since 1995/1996, the Yukon posted its strongest international net migration ever.

Nunavut posted the lowest growth rate in its brief history, despite the fact that its rate of natural growth was the highest in the country. This low growth is essentially attributed to a strong increase in its losses from interprovincial migration, the highest since its creation.

The Northwest Territories were the only jurisdiction in Canada to post negative population growth in 2007/2008. This was mainly due to a sharp increase in its losses coming from interprovincial migration.

Changing trends

An analysis on an annualized basis should not conceal the fact that trends can vary within a given year. In fact, a review of the situation in the last three months of 2007/2008 reveals that Alberta’s net gains in interprovincial migration were on the rebound after several quarters of decline.

For an analysis of the Canadian demographic situation for the April to June 2008 period, the reader can refer to the analytical section of the Quarterly Demographic Estimates, Vol. 22, no. 2.