Population growth in Canada
Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.
- Since 1851, population growth in Canada has been defined by three distinct demographic regimes. From 1851 to 1900, the population grew slowly by a few million. High fertility was offset by very high mortality levels. Then, in the first half of the twentieth century (1901 to 1945), despite the two world wars, the growth rate generally accelerated, notably because of the settlement of Western Canada. Owing to the baby-boom and strong immigration, the second half of the twentieth century saw the Canadian population grow at an even faster pace. During the last 60 years (from 1946 to 2006), Canada's population went from 12.3 million to 32.6 million, an increase of more than 20 million.
- More recently, between 2001 and 2006, Canada's population grew at an average annual rate of approximately 1.0%, mainly owing to strong immigration.
- This growth is expected to continue in the coming decades, and Canada could have 42.5 million inhabitants in 2056, under the medium growth scenario of the latest population projections. However, Canada's population growth is expected to fall off somewhat, mainly because of a decline in natural increase.
- Compared to other developed countries, Canada in recent years has registered a relatively high average annual growth rate (approximately 1%). This rate was similar to that of the United States but higher than the average rate observed in the countries included in Europe 15. Compared to all other member countries of the G-8, Canada has the largest net international migration as a proportion of population growth (Statistics Canada, The Daily, September 28th, 2005).
- In the middle of the last century, Canada's population grew as fast as that of a number of developing countries, such as Mexico, where fertility levels were very high. Canada was then experiencing the effects of a big baby-boom as well as an increased intake of immigrants. A drop in fertility starting in the early 1960s subsequently caused population growth to slow.
- The growth of many developed countries is expected to become negative in the coming decades. Indeed, this is already the case in some places. In Canada, as in the United States, no long-term population decline is projected. Nevertheless, Canada is slowly heading toward zero growth, while the United States are projecting growth that should remain relatively stable.
- In 2006, international migration accounted for two-thirds of Canadian population growth. The remaining third was provided by natural increase, the growth that results from the difference between the number of births and the number of deaths.
- Until the early 1990s, natural increase was almost always the main engine of Canada's total population growth. However, in the mid-1990s, a reversal occurred: the migratory component became the main engine of Canadian growth, particularly because of low fertility and the aging of the population.
- Around 2030, deaths are expected to start outnumbering births. From that point forward, immigration would be the only growth factor for the Canadian population.
- Date modified: