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Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories


Size and growth of Canada’s population

  • Under the scenarios considered, Canada’s population would be between 36.0 and 42.0 millions in 2031 and between 36.0 and 50.0 millions in 2056. In the medium-growth scenario, the population would be 39.0 millions in 2031 and 42.5 millions in 2056.
  • In five of the six projection scenarios, population growth would continue through 2056, but would gradually slow down. Only the low-growth scenario projects a decline in Canada’s population, beginning in 2040.
  • Under the medium-growth scenario, Canada would continue to have a higher rate of population growth through 2056 than the current one observed in G8 countries such as Germany, Russia, Italy and Japan.
  • In all the scenarios considered, natural increase would become negative in the medium or long term: in 2020 under the low-growth scenario, in 2030 under the medium-growth scenario, and in 2046 under the high-growth scenario. As a result, migration increase would become Canada’s only factor of population growth.
  • Under five of the six projection scenarios, Canada’s international net migration would increase between now and 2031. Compared with its 2005-2006 level of 183,000, its 2031 level would be 150,000 in the low-growth scenario, 223,000 in the medium-growth scenario, and 305,000 in the high-growth scenario.
  • The component that has the greatest impact on population size in our projection scenarios is immigration. The component that has the greatest likelihood of slowing or accelerating the aging of Canada’s population between now and 2056 is fertility.

Age structure of Canada’s population

  • Although Canada’s population in 2005 is younger than the populations of most other G8 countries except the United States, it is expected to age more rapidly in the coming years as a direct result of the pronounced baby boom in Canada that followed the Second World War and lasted 20 years.
  • In every projection scenario, the median age of Canada’s population would continue to rise. It would climb from 39 years in 2005 to between 43 and 46 years in 2031 and between 45 and 50 years in 2056.
  • In all the projection scenarios considered, the proportion of senior citizens would increase rapidly over the next few decades, reaching 23% to 25% in 2031 and 25% to 30% in 2056. In 2005, the figure was 13%.
  • In all the projection scenarios, seniors would become more numerous than children somewhere around 2015. It would be unprecedented in Canada’s history. In 2031, the number of people aged 65 and over would range between 8.9 and 9.4 million, depending on the scenario selected, and the number of children, between 4.8 and 6.6 millions.
  • The proportion of the oldest seniors (80 years and over) would increase sharply in every projection scenario. By 2056, about one out of ten Canadians would be 80 years and over, compared with about one in 30 in 2005.
  • The future of the working-age population (aged 15 to 64 years) depends on the scenario. In the medium-growth scenario, the working-age population would grow more and more slowly until 2020, remain steady for a decade, and then resume growing. It would start decreasing in 2017 under the low-growth scenario, and it would increase continuously through the projection period under the high-growth scenario.
  • In every projection scenario, the proportion of the working-age population would decline steadily in the 2010s and 2020s, reaching about 62% of the total population at the beginning of the 2030s. Then it would level off at about 60%.
  • All the projection scenarios also lead to a slight aging of the working-age population (aged 15 to 64 years). The proportion of older workers (aged 45 to 64 years) in the working-age population would rise from 38% in 2005 to 41% in 2031 and then to about 45% in 2056.
  • In every projection scenario, the demographic dependency ratio – the number of children (aged 0 to 14 years) and seniors (65 years and over) per 100 working-age people (15 to 64 years) – would increase rapidly until 2031. It would be about 61 in 2031, compared with 44 in 2005.

Population of the provinces and territories

  • Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia are the only provinces in which the projected average annual growth would exceed the growth rate for Canada as a whole. As a result, these provinces would see an increase in their population share between now and 2031.
  • Three provinces could have a smaller population in 2031 than their estimated population in 2005: Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. This would only be the case under certain scenarios.

Age structure of the provinces and territories

  • The difference in median age between the oldest province and the youngest was five years in 2005. It would increase in all the scenarios considered and would range between 7 and 11 years in 2031, mainly because of the cumulative long-term effects of fertility and interprovincial migration, which would vary widely from province to province.
  • In almost every scenario, the Atlantic provinces would have the highest median ages in Canada in 2031, while the three territories would have the lowest median age in the country. Between those two extremes, the median age would be higher than the national average in Quebec and British Columbia and lower in Ontario and the Prairies.

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Date Modified: 2005-12-16 Important Notices