Section 4 – Conclusion

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The present edition of the projections follows a comprehensive review of all aspects of the projections program; thus, it incorporates many new approaches in terms of methodology and assumptions. These changes, which also take into account the most recent demographic trends, generate novel results that should not be compared to previous editions without caution.

Overall, the national picture remains largely a continuation of the trends projected in the previous edition, with population aging being a prominent and inevitable feature of population change in the coming years. Indeed, the results of the various scenarios highlight above all the powerful momentum present in the dynamics of the Canadian population: even with major shifts in the components of population growth such as fertility and immigration, the continuation of population aging and slowing growth will not be reversed—only the pace will quicken or slow. These results also demonstrate that the growth of the Canadian population will slow over the coming years, largely a result of the increasing number of deaths which will limit the contribution of natural increase to population growth. Lastly, the proportion of the population represented by the working-age population (those aged 15 to 64 years) will also decrease over the next decades as the baby-boom cohort gradually moves into the population aged 65 and over.

The results at the provincial and territorial level, however, show considerable change in comparison to previous editions. This is due in large part to the introduction of a new method of modeling interprovincial migration that is more transparent and that allows for a more clearly distinct set of scenarios for the individual provinces and territories. Projection results show that several of the Atlantic provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) would experience population decline in the low-growth and medium-growth (M1) scenarios and even under the high-growth scenario in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador. This shift reflects the trends experienced in these provinces in recent years: generally, low fertility, relatively old age structure, low levels of immigration and net interprovincial migration losses which have resulted in low population growth or population decline in the years following the previous edition’s release. However, one should remember that projection results are sometimes very different from one interprovincial migration assumption to the next, showing how sensitive these regions are to this component; thus, a future change in this regard could result in a considerably different population evolution.

In contrast to the Atlantic provinces, the western provinces—Alberta in particular—are projected to experience growth rates much higher than the national average in the coming years, reflecting their higher fertility, younger-than-average age structure, stronger levels of immigration and positive interprovincial migration flows.

All in all, the results of this edition of projections show considerable differences in population growth—both across the regions of Canada and between the different scenarios for a given region. This variation demonstrates without doubt that the future of the Canadian population is far from determined. As a result, projection users should consider several scenarios in combination when using these results.

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