New arrivals swell Canada’s population growth with many choosing to go west

by Ray Clancy on February 10, 2017

The rise in the number of people moving to Canada has contributed significantly to the growth in the country’s population, official figures show, with more people moving West.

Canada has been very open in terms of welcoming both would be expats and people fleeing conflict in Syria and other war zones around the world and this is reflected in the newly published figures from Statistics Canada.

Overall people arriving from abroad have accounted for two thirds of the growth in the nation’s population. From 2011 to 2016, the population increased by 1.7 million or 5%, a slightly lower rate than 5.9% from 2006 to 2011.

About two thirds of Canada’s population growth from 2011 to 2016 was the result of migratory increase while natural increase accounted for the remaining one third. In the coming years, population growth in Canada is projected to be increasingly linked to migratory increase rather than natural increase, mainly because of low fertility and an aging population.

It means that Canada has the highest population growth among G7 countries and the average annual population growth rate of 1% from 2011 to 2016 was the eighth highest among G20 countries, behind Saudi Arabia, Turkey, South Africa, Australia, Mexico, Indonesia and India.

The figures also reveal where the highest numbers of people live in Canada with two thirds close to the southern border with the United States. Canada has a small population living in a large land area leading to a low population density compared with other countries. For example, Canada had 3.9 people per square kilometre in 2016, compared with 35.3 people per square kilometre in the US.

But the population is highly concentrated geographically. In 2016 some 66% lived within 100 kilometres of the southern border, an area that represents about 4% of Canada’s territory.

This includes the cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver where the population density is well above the national average. The municipality of Vancouver had the highest population density in Canada, with more than 5,400 people per square kilometre. Among municipalities of 5,000 or more inhabitants, the next three with the highest population density were located in the Montreal.

The West is leading the country in terms of population growth for the first time. The top growth rate was in Alberta, followed by Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia. Nearly one in three residents now live in Western Canada, the highest share ever recorded.

But the Atlantic region, which has the biggest ageing population, is seeing very little growth and the data suggests that is because it is not attracting immigrants.

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