Section 3 – Results at the provincial and territorial levels, 2013 to 2038

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General results

The projections for the provinces and territories include an additional component compared to the projections for Canada as a whole: interprovincial migration. For several provinces, interprovincial migration is the component that has the greatest impact on population growth. It is also one of the most volatile components, as it is largely influenced by many non-demographic factors such as differentials in wages and employment opportunities among the provinces and territories.

According to the projection scenarios, most provinces and territories would experience an increase in population between 2013 and 2038 (Table 3.1). However, some Atlantic provinces and some territories would experience a population decrease during the period in certain projection scenarios.

The projected average annual growth rate for the period 2013/2014 to 2037/2038 (Table 3.2) varies not only from one province or territory to another but also from one scenario to another within each province or territory. In general, the majority of the scenarios for provinces located east of Ontario show a growth rate lower than the national average, while several scenarios for the western provinces point to growth above the Canadian average. As a result, the geographic distribution of the population within Canada (Table 3.3) could change over the next 25 years. Most scenarios indicate that the population share of the Atlantic provinces and Quebec would decrease, while the population of the Prairie provinces and British Columbia would account for an increased proportion of the national population.

In the coming decades, the population aging projected at the national level would also be experienced by each of the provinces and territories, though to varying degrees. With the exception of Nunavut, all provinces and territories show an increase in the median age during the projection period in all scenarios (Table 3.4). The proportion of the population aged 65 and over would also increase in all regions of Canada, regardless of the scenario (Table 3.5). The most rapid increases would occur in the Atlantic provinces and the territories. The territories would nevertheless have the lowest proportions of persons aged 65 and over in 2038, as was the case in 2013. Conversely, the highest proportions of seniors (aged 65 and over) in Canada in 2038 would occur in the Atlantic provinces, at more than 30% each in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick according to all scenarios.

Results by province and territory

This section provides the key results of the projections at the provincial and territorial level. For each specific province and territory, a brief analysis in the form of highlights is provided, accompanied by two figures and a table. The first figure shows the projected growth according to the low-growth (L), medium-growth (M1) and high-growth (H) scenarios, along with the two medium-growth scenarios that exhibit the lowest and highest population growth.

After the first figure, a table comprising the same scenarios shows the population growth rate, which is broken down into three components: natural increase (births minus deaths), international migratory increase (immigration plus net non-permanent residents minus net emigration) and interprovincial migratory increase (interprovincial in-migration minus interprovincial out-migration). For each of these components, crude rates are shown. Note that because they are influenced by both the intensity of a demographic phenomenon and the age structure of the population, crude rates accurately indicate the impact of the various components on population growth.

Finally, the section also includes a figure comparing four population pyramids: the observed population in 2013 and the projected population in 2038 as per the M1 medium-growth scenario and the two scenarios with the lowest and highest projected median ages.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • According to the various projection scenarios, by 2038, the population of Newfoundland and Labrador would be between 426,500 (scenario M2) and 536,400 (scenario M5). In 2013, the province’s population was 526,700. In all scenarios, Newfoundland and Labrador’s demographic weight within the total Canadian population would decrease to between 1.0% (scenarios M1, M2, M4 and H) and 1.2% (scenario M5) in 2038, from 1.5% in 2013.
  • Future population growth in Newfoundland and Labrador is sensitive to interprovincial migration patterns, as indicated by the fact that the scenarios showing the lowest and highest population growth differ only in terms of their interprovincial migration assumptions.
  • In all scenarios but one (M5), the population of Newfoundland and Labrador would decrease over the next 25 years. Interprovincial migration losses in the first projected years, followed by negative natural increase, would be largely responsible for this decrease. Natural increase would become negative because of the projected increase in the number of deaths, as the large baby‑boom cohort reaches older ages where mortality rates are higher.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador could see its population grow over the next 25 years if it experienced gains in interprovincial migration, as suggested in the M5 scenario.
  • In all scenarios, Newfoundland and Labrador exhibits the highest median age and proportion of the population aged 65 and over across Canada in 2038. The median age would increase from 44.2 years in 2013 to between 50.7 years (scenario M5) and 54.5 years (scenario M2) in 2038. The proportion of the population aged 65 and over would reach between 31.6% (scenario M5) and 35.9% (scenario M2) in 2038, compared to 17.1% in 2013.

Prince Edward Island

  • According to all projection scenarios, the population of Prince Edward Island would continue to grow during the next 25 years. Its annual percentage growth would exceed that of any other Atlantic province during the period. By 2038, the province’s population would reach between 162,100 (scenario L) and 194,100 (scenario H), compared to 145,200 in 2013. The demographic weight of the province within Canada is projected to remain stable in all scenarios (0.4%).
  • The projected international migratory increase in Prince Edward Island would be among the highest in the country, and serves as the main driver of population growth for the province in all scenarios.
  • Natural increase would become negative in Prince Edward Island during the projection in every scenario but one (H), as the crude death rate would increase and the crude birth rate would decrease under the effects of population aging.
  • Although the projected proportion of the population aged 65 and over and the projected median age in Prince Edward Island would remain above the national average, aging is expected to be less pronounced than in the other Atlantic provinces. From 43.1 years in 2013, the median age of the province’s population is projected to reach between 46.8 years (scenario H) and 49.6 years (scenario M4) in 2038. The proportion of persons aged 65 and over is projected to reach between 26.9% (scenario M2) and 30.2% (scenario M4) in 2038, compared to 17.3% in 2013.

Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia’s population could number between 881,200 (scenario M4) and 993,300 (scenario H) by 2038 according to all projection scenarios, from 940,800 in 2013. Nova Scotia’s demographic weight within the country decreases slightly in every scenario, from 2.7% in 2013 to between 2.0% (scenario M4) and 2.2% (scenarios L, M2, M3 and M5) by 2038.
  • In all scenarios for Nova Scotia, crude death rates would increase considerably during the projection period, driven upward by its population age structure becoming older. This phenomenon contributes in large part to the negative natural increase projected in all scenarios.
  • The combination of negative natural increase and weakly positive or negative net interprovincial migration would cause Nova Scotia to have a lower population in 2038 than in 2013 according to certain scenarios (L, M1 and M4). Higher natural increase or positive net interprovincial migration could lead to positive growth as indicated in scenarios H and M5, respectively.
  • In all scenarios, the median age of Nova Scotia’s population would increase during the 25-year projection period to between 48.8 years (scenarios H) and 50.8 years (scenario M4). Similarly, the projected proportion of persons aged 65 and over would exceed 30% in 2038 in all scenarios, reaching 32.2% according to scenario M4.

New Brunswick

  • According to the projection scenarios, New Brunswick’s population would be between 715,900 (scenario L) and 797,400 (scenario H) by 2038. In all scenarios, New Brunswick’s projected demographic weight within Canada decreases from its value of 2.2% in 2013 to between 1.6% (scenario M4) and 1.8% (scenario L and M5) in 2038.
  • New Brunswick’s population would decrease between 2013 and 2038 according to several projection scenarios (L, M1, M3 and M4). Each time, this situation is mainly a result of natural increase becoming more and more negative under population aging and, to a lesser extent, to losses in interprovincial migration.
  • Constant interprovincial migration gains over the projection period could lead to positive growth over the next 25 years in New Brunswick, as suggested by scenario M5.
  • In 2013, New Brunswick had the second-highest median age in the country, following Newfoundland and Labrador. This situation is projected to continue in all scenarios. In 2038, the median age of the population of New Brunswick would reach between 49.1 years (scenario H) and 51.1 years (scenario M4), compared to 43.9 years in 2013. From 17.6% in 2013, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over is projected to reach between 30.9% (scenarios M5) and 32.6% (scenario M4) by 2038.

Quebec

  • Quebec’s population experiences positive growth over the next 25 years in all projection scenarios. From 8,155,300 in 2013, the population would increase to somewhere between 8,730,100 (scenario L) and 10,232,000 (scenario H) by 2038.
  • The projected average annual growth rates for Quebec remain generally lower than the projected rates for Canada and Ontario. As a result, Quebec’s demographic weight within the nation decreases in all scenarios over the next 25 years, ranging between 21.4% (scenarios M2 and H) and 22.2% (scenario L) by 2038, from 23.2% in 2013.
  • Net international migration is the main driver of population growth in Quebec in all scenarios. Positive net international migration would offset negative or diminishing natural increase (related to population aging) and interprovincial migration losses.
  • From 41.6 years in 2013, the projected median age of the Quebec population would rise to between 43.7 years (scenario H) and 46.3 years (scenario L) by 2038. The proportion of the population aged 65 and over is projected to be between 24.3% (scenario H) and 26.1% (scenario L) in 2038, higher than in 2013 (16.6%).

Ontario

  • Ontario’s population is projected to reach between 14,848,500 (scenario L) and 18,256,100 (scenario H) by 2038, from 13,538,000 in 2013.
  • Ontario remains Canada’s most populous province in all scenarios. The province would account for between 37.0% (scenario M4) and 39.3% (scenario M3) of the Canadian population by 2038, compared with 38.5% in 2013.
  • Positive net interprovincial migration could propel the projected annual growth rate of Ontario above the national average, as suggested by the M3 scenario.
  • In all scenarios, the main factor in Ontario’s population growth is international migratory increase. To a lesser extent, population growth would also be a result of positive natural increase which, although diminishing because of population aging, would remain positive throughout most projections scenarios.
  • From 15.2% in 2013, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over in Ontario is projected to reach between 23.8% (scenario H) and 26.2% (scenario L) by 2038. The median age is projected to increase in all scenarios from 40.3 years in 2013 to between 43.0 years (scenario H) and 45.8 years (scenario L) in 2038.

Manitoba

  • The population of Manitoba increases over the next 25 years according to all scenarios, from 1,265,000 in 2013 to between 1,445,700 (scenario L) and 1,786,600 (scenario H).
  • The two main factors in Manitoba’s population growth would be international migratory increase—the highest rates in Canada in most scenarios—and natural increase, in that order. However, the province is projected to sustain losses in its migration exchanges with the rest of the country in every scenario.
  • Manitoba’s demographic weight within the Canadian population is projected to increase slightly during the projection in all scenarios except one (scenario M4, where it remains stable at 3.6%).
  • In 2013, Manitoba’s population was on average younger than the Canadian population as a whole, and that situation would continue in 2038 according to all projection scenarios. The projected median age of the population of Manitoba would increase from 37.7 years in 2013 to between 39.2 years (scenario H) and 42.3 years (scenario L) by 2038. In comparison, the projected median age for the Canadian population would be between 42.5 and 45.3 years according to these same scenarios. From 14.4% in 2013, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over in Manitoba would be between 19.8% (scenario H) and 22.1% (scenario L) in 2038, proportions that are below the projected Canadian average in all scenarios.

Saskatchewan

  • The population of Saskatchewan would grow over the next 25 years according to all scenarios. The population would total between 1,173,900 (scenario M3) and 1,527,000 (scenario M5) by 2038, compared to 1,108,300 in 2013.
  • Future population growth in Saskatchewan is particularly sensitive to interprovincial migration patterns: the highest and lowest projected populations for the province in 2038 are those coming from scenarios M3 and M5, which differ only in terms of their assumptions regarding interprovincial migration.
  • Net international migration is, however, the main driver of population growth in Saskatchewan in all projection scenarios. In addition, fed by a higher fertility than in other provinces, natural increase remains positive throughout the projection for the province in all scenarios. Its contribution to population growth, however, would remain lower than what is projected in Alberta, the latter province benefiting from a proportionally larger population of women in childbearing ages—a situation related to strong influx of international and interprovincial migrants into Alberta in recent decades.
  • Saskatchewan’s demographic weight within the Canadian population is projected to decline slightly in almost every scenario. From 3.2% in 2013, it would decrease to 2.7% in the least favourable scenario (M3). Only the M5 scenario suggests an increase in the province’s demographic share within Canada by 2038 (3.5%).
  • The median age of the population of Saskatchewan is projected to increase from 37.1 years in 2013 to between 39.6 years (scenarios M5 and H) and 42.7 years (scenario L) in 2038. From 14.4% in 2013, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over in Saskatchewan is projected to reach between 19.4% (scenario M5) and 22.7% (scenario M3) in 2038. These values remain lower than the projected averages for the Canadian population in all scenarios.

Alberta

  • Alberta’s population would increase over the next 25 years according to all projection scenarios to reach between 5,622,900 (scenario L) and 6,826,600 (scenario H) by 2038, compared to 4,025,100 in 2013.
  • Alberta exhibits the highest average annual growth rates in Canada in almost all projection scenarios (the exception being scenario M5). As is projected elsewhere in the country, growth rates decrease for the province over the course of the projection due mainly to a decline in the levels of natural increase, a situation related to population aging.
  • The demographic weight of Alberta within Canada is projected to increase in all scenarios, from 11.4% of the Canadian population in 2013 to between 13.2% (scenario M5) and 15.6% (scenario M4) in 2038.
  • Alberta’s population would surpass that of British Columbia by 2038 according to most scenarios (L, M1, M3, M4 and H). In 2013, British Columbia’s population was about 560,000 persons larger than that of Alberta.
  • Alberta is projected to experience substantial gains in interprovincial migration in almost all scenarios (the exception being scenario M5).
  • From 11.2% in 2013, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over in Alberta would increase to between 16.9% (scenario M4) and 19.6% (scenario L). The median age would reach between 38.3 years (scenario H) and 41.0 years (scenario L) in 2038, compared to 36.0 years in 2013. Despite these increases, the Albertan population remains in 2038 the youngest of all the provinces in every scenario but one (scenario M5), as it was in 2013.

British Columbia

  • British Columbia’s population would continue to grow substantially over the next 25 years according to all scenarios. Its population is projected to reach between 5,180,200 (scenario L) and 6,662,100 (scenario H) by 2038, compared to 4,582,000 in 2013.
  • The projected annual growth rate of British Columbia is above the national average in all scenarios except M3, in which the province is projected to experience net interprovincial migration losses. The province’s demographic weight within the country would be between 12.1% (scenario M3) and 14.2% (scenario M2) by 2038, compared to 13.0% in 2013.
  • In all scenarios except one (scenario L), the main factor of population growth in British Columbia is international migratory increase. In the low-growth scenario, lower levels of immigration result in interprovincial migration eventually becoming the main factor in population growth.
  • From 41.7 years in 2013, the median age of the population of British Columbia would be between 43.4 years (scenario H) and 46.7 years (scenario L) in 2038. The proportion of the population aged 65 and over is projected to reach between 23.9% (scenario H) and 27.0% (scenario L). These two indicators remain above the Canadian average in all scenarios.

Yukon

  • Projection scenarios show a wide range of possible results for Yukon. By 2038, Yukon’s population would be between 35,900 (scenario M2) and 62,000 (scenario M5). In 2013, Yukon’s population was 36,700.
  • In certain scenarios (M2 and M3), Yukon’s population in 2038 would be slightly lower than that observed in 2013, mainly because of interprovincial migration losses.
  • Future population growth in Yukon depends largely on interprovincial migration flows. Differences in outcomes according to the various medium-growth scenarios reflect the high level of historical variation in Yukon’s net interprovincial migration.
  • Natural increase and international migratory increase are both projected to remain positive for Yukon over the projection period in all scenarios.
  • The median age of the population of Yukon is projected to increase in all scenarios over the next 25 years. From 38.9 years in 2013, it would reach between 39.3 years (scenario M2) and 44.1 years (scenario M3) in 2038. The proportion of the population aged 65 and over would increase from 9.9% in 2013 to between 16.3% (scenario M2) and 21.8% (scenario M3) by 2038.

Northwest Territories

  • The population of the Northwest Territories is projected to number between 38,300 (scenario M4) and 48,800 (scenario M3) by 2038. The territory counted 43,500 inhabitants in 2013.
  • Population change in the Northwest Territories over the course of the next 25 years would depend largely on the nature of migratory exchanges with the other parts of Canada. Historically, the Northwest Territories has generally sustained net losses in interprovincial migration.
  • Natural increase is projected to remain positive in all scenarios for the Northwest Territories, and high in comparison with the provinces and Yukon, due mainly to high crude birth rates for the territory. Net international migration is also projected to remain positive in all scenarios.
  • According to all projection scenarios, the Northwest Territories would remain the second-youngest population in Canada, after Nunavut. Nevertheless, over the next 25 years, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over would more than double, from 6.1% in 2013 to between 14.4% (scenario M3) and 16.2% (scenario M4) in 2038. From 32.4 years in 2013, the median age is projected to range between 33.8 years (scenario H) and 35.8 years (scenarios L and M4) in 2038, levels that would remain well below the projected Canadian average.

Nunavut

  • In all projection scenarios, Nunavut experiences an annual growth rate that is positive and higher than the Canadian average over the next 25 years. From 35,600 in 2013, the population of Nunavut would increase to between 43,800 (scenario L) and 53,300 (scenario M5) in 2038.
  • Fertility is the key driver of population growth in Nunavut, as its population would continue to increase despite losses in migration exchanges with the rest of Canada and almost no gains from international migration. All scenarios indicate strongly positive natural increase for the territory, a result of the fact that Nunavut would continue to hold the highest fertility rates in the country while also having a young age structure.
  • The population of Nunavut is projected to remain the youngest in Canada in all scenarios. The median age of the population of Nunavut could in fact decrease over the next 25 years (scenarios M3, M4 and H), a phenomenon that would not be seen anywhere else in the country. The projected median age ranges between 24.6 years (scenario H) and 28.3 years (scenario M5) in 2038, in comparison to 25.4 years in 2013.
  • The proportion of persons aged 65 and over in Nunavut could more than double over the next 25 years according to all projection scenarios. It would nevertheless remain the youngest population in the country.
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