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Since 1974, Statistics Canada's Demography Division has been publishing population projections for Canada, the provinces and the territories. The assumptions and scenarios underlying the projections are widely consulted by many partners of Statistics Canada, including provincial and territorial focal points, other federal departments—notably Citizenship and Immigration Canada—and various internal and external committees of Demography Division.
Following numerous comments from these partners as users of population projections, a short-term scenario is now available; all its assumptions (except the one concerning mortality) reproduce the behaviours observed during the most recent available year of the Demographic Estimates Program. Rather than projecting behaviours over a long period that are based on a single year of observation, the projection horizon for that scenario was limited to five years. This short-term scenario enables users to consider what the Canadian population might become if the very recent situation continues.
The population projections are not predictions, on any account. Instead, they are based on a series of assumptions which, once summarized in a few scenarios that are intended to be both plausible and relevant, offer a range of possibilities as to how the Canadian population will evolve in the future. Beyond the fact that they serve to shed light on the long-term consequences of the demographic changes under way, projections are useful for planning future needs and developing policies in response to demographic changes. Accordingly, the projections are intended for a wide range of users including the federal government, provincial, territorial or municipal governments, research groups, academics, interest groups, international and non-governmental organizations, educational institutions and the general public.
A final point to note is that another series of population projections was recently produced by Demography Division and has been available since March 9, 2010: Projections on the Diversity of the Canadian Population, 2006 to 2031. These projections of diversity differ in many respects from the projections for Canada, the provinces and the territories: they are produced by means of a microsimulation method, and their basic geographic level focuses on Canada's 33 census metropolitan areas (CMAs). In addition, they contain a number of variables reflecting the ethnocultural diversity of the population: visible minority status, religious denomination, mother tongue, generation status and place of birth. Where possible, the assumptions for these projections were harmonized with those in the present projections to ensure the best possible consistency between the two data series. However, their results differ based on their respective objectives and their method of calculation; therefore, users are encouraged to be aware of these differences between the two series of projections.