Backgrounder: Canada's population reaches 40 million

June 15, 2023 | Ottawa, Ontario

Statistics Canada's Population Data

  • Canada's population clock uses a real-time model based on Statistics Canada's quarterly demographic estimates. The numbers for Canada and for each province and territory are updated in real time based on the most recent birth, death and migration data.
  • The clock also shows the time it takes for a demographic event (birth, death or migration component) to occur in Canada. However, the clock does not reflect when the events themselves actually occur. Rather, it shows the average pace of Canada's population renewal in real time.
  • The census of population is conducted every five years. It provides a snapshot of Canada at a specific point in time and also provides counts for small regions and characteristics of the population according to various variables. Statistics Canada complements this data with ongoing population estimates that track demographic shifts between censuses.
  • Statistics Canada publishes quarterly demographic estimates for Canada as well as the provinces and territories. Estimates are used to measure the evolution of the population between censuses and provide explanations behind the population growth, such as births, deaths and migration components. These quarterly demographic estimates and census counts are the measures usually used in the context of various government programs. Estimates are usually released three to five months after the reference date.
  • On June 28, 2023, Statistics Canada will release its quarterly population estimates for the first quarter of 2023. Since those estimates will be as of April 1, 2023, it is normal and expected that Canada's population count will still be below the 40 million mark.

Current Population Growth

  • Canada's population is currently growing at a record-setting pace. In 2022, the number of Canadians rose by 1,050,110. This marks the first time in Canadian history that our population grew by over 1 million people in a single year, and the highest annual population growth rate (+2.7%) on record since 1957 (+3.3%).
  • While that previous record is mostly attributed to the high number of births during the post-war baby boom, international migration accounted for nearly all growth recorded in 2022 (96%).
  • This growth is reflected across Canada. In 2022, every single province and territory recorded a growing population, except for the Northwest Territories.
  • Canada is by far leading the G7 countries for population growth. This was certainly true in 2022 and has been the case for the last two decades.
  • If this rate of population growth was to stay constant in the years to come, the Canadian population could double in about 26 years.
  • In 2021, more than 8.3 million people, or almost one quarter (23%) of the population, were, or had ever been, a landed immigrant or permanent resident in Canada. This was the largest proportion since Confederation, topping the previous 1921 record of 22.3%, and the highest among the G7.
  • Canada's Indigenous population continues to grow much faster than the national average. It increased by 9.4% from 2016 to 2021, surpassing the growth of the non-Indigenous population over the same period (+5.3%).
  • The 2021 Census counted 1.8 million Indigenous people, accounting for 5% of Canada's total population, up from 4.9% in 2016.

Historical Context

  • Statistics Canada has been tracking the growth of Canada's population since the very first national census, conducted in 1871.
  • Canada has known several important waves of immigration. One of the biggest was at the very beginning of the 20th century, which saw many immigrants settling the Prairies. In 1913, Canada welcomed over 400 000 immigrants. A record that was only surpassed in 2021 (and again in 2022).
  • The period after the Second World War (1946-1965) also saw very high rates of population growth, mostly because of the baby boom. The average number of children per woman at that time peaked at 3.94 in 1959, compared to 1.4 in 2020.
  • The fertility rate started declining after the 1960s. By 1995, immigration overtook natural increase (births minus deaths) as the main source of population growth.
  • In 2015, there were more Canadians aged 65 and older than between 0 and 14 for the first time in Canada's history.
  • Canada's immigration targets have been increasing since 2016, in an effort to address labour shortages and an aging population.
  • In 2020-2021 population growth slowed due to border restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. But as recent numbers show, it quickly bounced back.
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