Despite pandemic, Canada’s population growing fastest in G7: census
Despite the pandemic, Canada remains the fastest growing G7 country, largely thanks to immigration, according to 2021 census data released Wednesday.
Recently released census figures put Canada’s population at 36,991,981 in the spring of last year, with nearly 27.3 million Canadians living in one of Canada’s 41 major urban centres.
There are approximately 1.8 million more people than five years ago in Canada, a growth rate of 5.2% between 2016 and 2021.
While Canada’s population growth ranks first in the G7, it ranks seventh in the G20, behind Saudi Arabia, Australia, South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia and Mexico, and is on a par with India.
The new census population figure released is a snapshot of Canada at a specific time — in this case from May 2021. Statistics Canada also provides population estimates that differ from census data due to the how the estimates are calculated.
Other census highlights:
- The Maritimes grew faster than the Prairie provinces for the first time since the 1940s.
- For the first time since the 1986 census, more people moved to the Maritimes from other parts of Canada, 134,841, than people who moved, 98,086.
- Yukon’s population grew at the fastest rate nationally, with a growth rate of 12.1%.
- Newfoundland and Labrador was the only province to see its population decrease from 2016 to 2021, down 1.8%.
- The province with the fastest growth rate was Prince Edward Island, which grew by 8%.
- Despite the pandemic, Canada’s population grew almost twice as fast as other G7 countries from 2016 to 2021.
- Immigration – not the birth rate – drove Canada’s population growth from 2016 to 2021. It’s also the main reason for a slowdown from 2020 onwards as border restrictions were imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Pandemic affects growth rate
While Canada’s overall population growth rate from 2016 to 2021 – at 5.2% – was higher than the 5% growth seen in the previous five-year cycle, the pandemic has had a significant impact.
Most of the population growth actually took place before the pandemic began. In 2019, for example, the country’s population grew by 583,000, or 1.6%, a record.
In 2020, however, with the introduction of global border and travel restrictions implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, population growth due to immigration has fallen to less than a quarter of what it was. was the previous year.
Deaths from COVID-19 also impacted population growth in 2020, but only marginally.
The number of deaths recorded in 2020 stood at 307,000, about 22,000 more than the previous year. This increase, combined with declining immigration, has resulted in 2020 seeing the lowest annual population growth rate since World War I.
Immigration-related driving is on the rise
Four-fifths of Canada’s population growth from 2016 to 2021 was attributable to immigration, while only one-fifth of Canada’s growth was attributable to natural increase, or the difference between the number of births and deaths .
This means that natural increase has fallen from a rate of 0.3% at the last census to just 0.1% over the past five years – the lowest rate on record. Despite this decline, Statistics Canada said that unlike the G7 countries of Italy and Japan, where natural increase has turned negative, Canada is expected to maintain positive natural increase over the next 50 years.
However, the immigration story is not the same for all provinces. At the time of the 2016 census, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had the fastest growth rates, but five years later the story is very different.
While immigration rates in other provinces increased significantly in the years leading up to the pandemic, they remained almost the same in the Prairie provinces. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have also seen more people leave these provinces than other parts of the country.
As a result, Alberta, which had led provincial population growth for five consecutive census cycles, fell to sixth place, as it marked the first drop in interprovincial migration over a five-year period since the 1991 census. .
Urban and rural growth rates
The number of Canadians living in rural areas in 2021 was 6,601,982, an increase of 0.4% from 2016, but this growth rate was well below that of Canada’s urban centers, which grew at a rate of 6.3%.
The number of large urban areas, or census metropolitan centers (CMAs), with populations over 100,000 in 2021 was 41. That compares to just 35 at the time of the last census.
A CMA, according to Statistics Canada, is counted by counting one or more municipalities centered on a city centre. To be considered a CMA, the large urban agglomeration must have a population of more than 100,000 inhabitants, of which at least 50,000 people live downtown.
Of the six new CMAs, none was in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Three were in British Columbia, including Kamloops, Chilliwack and Nanaimo. The others were Fredericton, Drummondville, Quebec, and Red Deer, Alberta.
Resort areas such as Squamish, BC, Canmore, Alta. and the Ontario cities of Wasaga Beach and Collingwood were among the fastest growing Canadian cities.
Toronto remains Canada’s most populous city with 6,202,225, with Montreal coming second with 4,291,732, followed by Vancouver with 2,642,825.
From 2016 to 2021, Toronto and Montreal grew at the same rate of 4.6%. Toronto’s pace of growth, however, was slower than that seen in the 2016 census, when Toronto grew by 6.2%. Montreal, by comparison, grew slightly faster than the 4.2% growth rate recorded in the last census.
Although the growth of Canada’s two largest cities was below the national average of 5.2%, they welcomed a record number of permanent or temporary immigrants compared to previous years.
The other three Canadian cities with a population of over one million in 2021 are: Ottawa–Gatineau at 1,488,307, marking another climb to fourth place after temporarily losing that title in 2016 to Calgary ; Calgary, which now has a population of 1,481,806; and Edmonton, with a population of 1,418,118.