Tuesday, October 06, 2009

More on Canadian regional demographics

Following up on my post last month about rising Canadian period fertility, the CBC reported recently that western Canada, led by Alberta, has seen the highest rate of population growth.

Alberta was the fastest growing province with a growth of 0.59 per cent — or about 20,000 new residents — in the quarter, but its growth was slower than the previous year, when it had a growth of 0.80 per cent.

Statistics Canada said growth in Alberta slowed because the number of residents from other provinces moving to Alberta declined, though Alberta still led the provinces in interprovincial migration gain with 4,700 net additions.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia also recorded higher than usual population growth.

Prince Edward Island had the highest demographic growth among Eastern provinces, with a 0.53 per cent increase in the quarter, mostly attributable to international immigration. Nunavut had the highest growth among the territories, with an increase of 0.68 per cent.

The remaining provinces and territories had growth rates less than the national average. Ontario's population grew by 0.34 per cent in the quarter, the seventh quarter in a row that its demographic growth has been below the national average.

Saskatchewan, interestingly, has recently experienced relatively rapid population growth driven substantially by migration in contradiction to past trends.

All this represents a continuation of the trends described by Patrick White recently in The Globe and Mail.

While their populations increased over all, Ontario and Quebec combined to shed nearly 7,500 residents to interprovincial migration between April and June of this year. For Ontario, it was the largest second-quarter migration loss since 1990.

Most headed for the Prairies. Saskatchewan recorded its biggest year-over-year population increase in five decades between July, 2008, and July, 2009, adding more than 16,500 new residents. The influx pushed the province's population beyond the one-million mark for the first time in 22 years.

“In Saskatchewan, we've been a net loser in the interprovincial sweepstakes for some time,” said Rosemary Venne, a demographer and associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan's Edwards School of Business. “Many of the people coming now are returnees.”

Alberta was the biggest beneficiary of the movement away from Central Canada, picking up more than 4,700 internal migrants and 8,600 immigrants during the quarter. But overall population growth in the province cooled considerably – from 0.78 to 0.59 per cent – compared to the same period last year.

Manitoba and British Columbia also grew at higher-than-normal rates.

“That's a continuation of the westward drift we've been seeing for some time,” Dr. Venne said.

Over all, Canada's population inched up 0.36 per cent in the quarter, reaching 33,739,859, due largely to the addition of about 84,800 immigrants, the second-highest figure for the quarter since 1972.

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