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Canada's population moves above 34 million

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Alex Carrick

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Alex Carrick is Chief Economist for CanaData, Reed Construction Data’s Canadian economic forecasting and statistical service.

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As of April 1, Canada’s population surpassed 34 million, according to Statistics Canada. That’s not a huge number, among international sovereign states, but it is quite respectable nonetheless. Population change is an important yardstick in several ways.

As of April 1, Canada’s population surpassed 34 million, according to Statistics Canada. That’s not a huge number, among international sovereign states, but it is quite respectable nonetheless.

Throughout history, there have been a great many nations that have accomplished a good deal of both good and bad with quite a few less individuals. This nation strives to promote the former.

Some international comparisons are interesting. France (65.4 million), the United Kingdom (62.0 million) and Italy (60.3 million) all have current populations that are a little less than double Canada’s. But also consider the longer term. Those nations in Europe have populations that are declining year over year, due to low birth rates and less welcoming positions on immigration.

Spain’s population at 47.0 million is less than 50% higher. Greece, a country that has been dominating the headlines this year due its credit woes, has only 11.3 million people.

More than two-thirds (71%) of Canada’s Q1 increase resulted from net international migration (i.e., immigration). The remainder (29%) came naturally (i.e., births in excess of deaths).

Statistics Canada notes that in the latest quarter, April 1 2010 versus January 1 2010, all four western provinces had growth rates above the national average (+0.26%).

Once again, British Columbia was the leader (+0.37%), but only by the slimmest of margins. Saskatchewan (+0.36%) was next, followed by Alberta (+0.35%) and Manitoba (+0.30%).

In eastern Canada, Ontario’s population change (+0.25%) almost exactly matched the national rate. Quebec was a little weaker (+0.20%), but this was still gratifying versus other periods in that province’s history when the trend was net outward migration due to political uncertainty.

The only province in the country with a population decline in the latest quarter was Nova Scotia (-0.03%). The other three Atlantic provinces, Prince Edward Island (+0.23%), New Brunswick (+0.08%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+0.02%) each recorded a gain.

All three northern regions – Nunavut (+1.05%), Yukon (+0.75%) and Northwest Territories (+0.57%) – had population growth rates higher than the total Canada rate.

Population change is an important yardstick in several ways. With respect to international and interprovincial migration, it shows which regions are considered most attractive to more people according to a combination of job opportunities and lifestyle advantages.

In the past two years, regional population demography in Canada has become more diverse. The mass migration of workers, sometimes accompanied by their families, to seek employment in Alberta’s Oil Sands ended when the global price of oil plunged from its peak after July 2008.

In many cases, workers have returned to their home provinces. In several instances, this was nudged along by better local economic conditions than when job-seekers left in the first place.

The more people there are, the more consumer spending takes place. Then there is also the construction connection. More people also means a heightened need for homes, roads, schools, medical facilities, sewers, water treatment plants and other features to serve communities.

Alex Carrick

Find Canadian construction-related economic articles in Canadian Construction Market News and in the Economic Outlook section of Daily Commercial News. Mr. Carrick also has a lifestyle blog that can be reached by clicking here.

by Alex Carrick

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