Provinces and regions
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Canada's population is concentrated in the southern part of the country
Ontario should remain the most populous province
The drop in fertility has affected almost all provinces and territories in the past 25 years
An increase in life expectancy in all provinces
The majority of immigrants settle in Ontario
In Ontario and British Columbia, more than one person in four is foreign-born
Few provinces/territories yield interprovincial/interterritorial gains
Newfoundland and Labrador has become the province with the oldest population
Growing concentration of immigrants in the largest urban centres
In Toronto and Vancouver, one person in two would belong to a visible minority group in 2017
Four Canadians in five live in a metropolitan area
- The population is not distributed uniformly throughout Canada's territory. The vast majority of people who make up the population of Canada live in the southern part of the country, near the American border, leaving the northern areas largely uninhabited.
- The strongest concentrations of population are located, firstly, along the axis extending from Québec city to Windsor, that is, along the St Lawrence River and lakes Ontario and Erie, and secondly, in Western Canada, in Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia and the area extending from Calgary to Edmonton in Alberta.
- In 2006, Canada's population was very largely concentrated in four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. Approximately 86% of Canadians in 2006 were living in one of these four provinces. The 12.7 million Ontarians alone account for nearly 40% of Canadians.
- The population projected for 2031, under the six scenarios used for the most recent population projections, shows that in most cases, the population of the provinces and territories should be larger in 2031 than in 2006. Only three provinces and one territory—Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Yukon—are likely to have a smaller population in 2031 than in 2006, and this is under certain scenarios only. Thus, growth is expected everywhere else.
- In 2005, Northwest Territories and Nunavut had the highest fertility levels in Canada with 2.11 and 2.72 children per woman. This situation is attributable to the presence of a large Aboriginal population. Similarly, the high fertility of the three Prairie provinces, compared to other provinces, is largely due to their Aboriginal population. The lowest fertility levels were registered in Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with total fertility rates of respectively 1.34, 1.39, 1.41 and 1.40 children per woman. Quebec, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and the Yukon, on the other hand, had a fertility rate close to the national average (1.54 children per woman).
- Between 1981 and 2005, fertility levels declined in almost every province and territory. The largest drops occurred in the territories (Yukon and Northwest Territories) and Prince Edward Island. Manitoba is the only province in which fertility has not declined since 1981.
- As in Canada as a whole, life expectancy observed in all provinces has been rising since 1971, for both males and females.
- British Columbia is the province which, in 2004, had the highest life expectancy with 78.5 years for males and 83.1 for females. On the other hand, Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest life expectancy (75.4 years for males and 80.9 years for females).
- According to the most recent population projections, this rise in life expectancy should continue in the upcoming years. Under almost all projection assumptions and, in almost all provinces, it should exceed 80 years for males and 85 years for females.
- In 2006, more than four immigrants out of five (85%) choose to settle in Quebec, Ontario or British Columbia. Ontario alone received half of Canada's newcomers in 2006, whereas the demographic weight of that province was less than 40%.
- This situation is a result of the strong concentration of Canadian immigration in the country's most urbanized areas. Indeed, the propensity of newcomers to settle in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver is a major factor in the differential growth among the various provinces and territories.
Figure 37 Distribution of immigrants admitted in 2006 by province or territory of destination, Canada
- In 2006, the proportion of foreign-born enumerated in Canada was 19.8%. However, this proportion varied considerably among the different provinces and territories. In Ontario and British Columbia it was above the national average at 28.3% and 27.5%. Following these two provinces were Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and Yukon, whose populations were between 10% and 16% foreign-born.
- With respectively 1.5% and 1.7% foreign-born persons among their population, Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador are the two regions with the lowest proportions of foreign-born individuals. None of the Atlantic provinces in 2006 had more than 5% of their population comprised of immigrants.
- Owing to its economic vitality, which has generated a strong demand for workers, Alberta has for the last ten years been the province with the largest interprovincial migratory gains in Canada. Between 1996 and 2001 and between 2001 and 2006, that province had net interprovincial migration of 138,000 and 140,000 respectively. Historically, British Columbia has also generally gained in internal migratory exchanges with the rest of the Canadian provinces. However, it has experienced losses between 1996 and 2001.
- During the recent period, between 2001 and 2006, Saskatchewan had the largest negative net migration, followed by Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec. Of the other provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick experienced losses in the three five-year periods, while Prince Edward Island, by contrast, was the only province along with Alberta to experience positive net migration in the three periods considered.
- Between 1971 and 2006, like Canada as a whole, all Canadian provinces and territories saw the median age of their population rise, even reaching record levels.
- Whereas in 1971, British Columbia was the province with the highest median age at 27.8 years, Newfoundland and Labrador became the oldest province in 2006 with a population whose median age was 41.3 years. The Maritime provinces, Quebec and British Columbia came next in the ranking.
- Ontario and the Prairie provinces, along with the territories, are the regions whose median age was below the national average of 38.8 years in 2006. Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are the youngest regions in Canada with median ages of respectively 23.2 and 30.9 years. The high fertility of the Aboriginal populations that live in these territories largely explains this situation.
- In 2006, immigrants in Canada were strongly concentrated in the country's largest urban areas. In the 2006 Census, 81% of recent immigrants (i.e., who arrived in the ten years preceding the census) were living in Canada's six largest urban areas. In 1981, 70% of all recent immigrants were living in these same six large cities, that is, 11 percentage points less than in 2006.
- The concentration is especially strong in Canada's three largest metropolitan areas, namely Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, which in 2006 were home to 70% of recent immigrants. The Toronto census metropolitan area alone accounted for more than 41% of all recent immigrants to Canada.
- In Canada, in 2001, slightly more than 13% of the population belonged to a visible minority group. However, this proportion varied greatly according to place of residence. In the Toronto and Vancouver census metropolitan areas, because of their large immigrant populations, the proportion exceeded 35%. In four other census metropolitan areas in 2001, the proportion of the population belonging to visible minorities was higher than the Canadian average: Ottawa, Abbotsford, Calgary and Edmonton.
- In 2017, according to the most recent projections of the visible minority population, approximately half of the population of the Toronto and Vancouver census metropolitan areas could belong to a visible minority group. Even though the proportion of individuals belonging to a visible minority group is expected to increase in all parts of Canada, it should remain markedly higher in Canada's urban areas than in the rest of the country.
Figure 40 Proportion of the population belonging to a visible minority group , selected census metropolitan areas and rest of Canada, 2001 and 2017
- In 2006, not only did four Canadians in five (81.1%) live in a metropolitan area, but one Canadian in three (34.4%) lived in one of Canada's three largest metropolitan areas, namely Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Census metropolitan areas with a population of more than 500,000 accounted for more than half of Canada's population.
- Of the 19% of Canadians living in rural areas, close to two-thirds were living in an area subject to the strong or moderate influence of one of Canada's metropolitan areas. Thus, 60% of the rural population was living in areas in which at least 5% of the employed labour force was commuting on a daily basis to the city for work purposes. Thus, less than 8% of Canada's population in 2006 was living in areas where direct metropolitan influence was low or non-existent.
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