Population growth continues to tilt Canada to the west

01/10/2013 by John Clinkard

Fuelled by an 81,700 increase in international immigration, together with a natural increase of 40,256, Canada’s population increased from 34,880,444 in the second quarter of 2012 to 35,002,400 in the third quarter.

The third quarter increase of 121,956 was slightly below the 126,610 recorded in the second quarter but little changed compared to the third quarter of 2011. On a year-over-year basis, Canada’s population grew by 1.14% in the third quarter compared to 1.15% in the second quarter.

As it has since 2007, Alberta’s population growth continued to outpace the rest of the country. In the third quarter, the population of the Wild Rose province increased by 33,100, the largest one quarter gain since the third quarter of 1980. Over the past twelve months Alberta has grown by 2.9%, well ahead of second place Saskatchewan (2.2%), and by more than twice the growth rate of the country as a whole (1.1%).

In light of the fact that the bulk (42%) of Alberta’s very strong population growth in the third quarter was the result of net inflow of 13,900 migrants from other provinces, predominantly Ontario (5,900) and British Columbia (4,000), it appears that the province’s strong demand for labour, reflected by a 4.2% unemployment rate, plus the effects of the lowest personal income tax rates in the country, is helping to attract individuals from other provinces.

In addition, Alberta’s population was augmented by 10,800 international migrants together with a natural increase of 8,400.

Despite the addition of 31,500 international migrants, Ontario’s population increased by a meager 0.3% q/q in the Q3/2012, the smallest quarterly gain since the third quarter of 1980. Consistent with the province’s above national average (7.2%) unemployment rate of 7.9%, this relatively subdued population gain was largely due to a net outflow of 5,591 individuals to other provinces.

As noted above, 5,900 Ontarian’s took up residence in Alberta during the quarter, the largest net inflow of persons from Ontario that Alberta has recorded since the third quarter of 2006.

Like Ontario, Quebec also attracted a significant (12,700) number of residents of other countries in the third quarter. However, the sub par pattern of job growth through the first half of the year, together with unemployment in the range of 7.6% to 8.0% appears to have encouraged almost 2,000 to leave the province during the third quarter, the largest net outflow since the second quarter of 2011.

Looking forward, given the positive outlook for economic growth in Alberta, Saskatchewan and to a lesser extent in British Columbia relative to the rest of the country, it appears that the East to West population flows in Canada will persist over the foreseeable future.

Population Growth – Canada and the Provinces

Population Growth – Canada and the Provinces
Data Source: Statistics Canada/Chart: Reed Construction Data, CanaData.