Population Projections for Canada (2018 to 2068), Provinces and Territories (2018 to 2043)
Section 4 – Conclusion

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The present edition of the projections 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. This pattern is significant, as the proportion of the population represented by persons of traditional working age (15 to 64 years) is projected to decrease over the coming decades as the baby-boom cohort gradually moves into the population aged 65 and over. The results of the various scenarios highlight the fact that a reversal of population aging is unlikely, only its pace would quicken or slow.

These results also demonstrate that the growth of the Canadian population would slow over the coming years, largely a result of the increasing number of deaths that would limit the contribution of natural increase to population growth. Yet, the fact that the Canadian population would continue to grow is itself noteworthy, at a time where the populations of many developed countries have already begun or are expected to soon begin to decrease.

The results at the provincial and territorial level, however, show considerable diversity and in some cases, changes in comparison to previous editions. Projection results show that Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories would experience population decrease in certain scenarios, while Newfoundland and Labrador would see its population decrease in all projection scenarios. These projected developments for Newfoundland and Labrador in particular reflect the trends experienced in this province in recent years: generally, low fertility, relatively old age structure, low levels of immigration and (generally) 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 most of the Atlantic provinces, the Prairie 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, and stronger levels of immigration.

Projected trends in the territories continue to differ substantially from the rest of Canada, owing largely to their higher than average fertility rates (particularly in Nunavut) and relatively young populations. There is also considerable variation between the three territories themselves in terms of the main drivers of population growth, with Nunavut relying nearly exclusively on natural increase and the Northwest Territories and Yukon owing more of their growth to international migratory increase.

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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