Transcript of the chat session on Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories, which occurred on Friday, September 19, 2014 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. EDT

Note: This was a bilingual chat session, which means that the participants were able to submit their questions in English or French. Statistics Canada respects the Official Languages Act and is committed to ensuring that information products of equal quality are available in both English and French. For that reason, all the questions and answers have been translated in the other official language.

 Moderator at 12:30:00
Welcome everyone! This is a bilingual chat session, which means that you can submit your questions in English or French. Our experts will respond in a timely manner and in the official language in which the question was asked.

 jasmine.ing at 12:33:00
Thank you for answering our questions today. How do you account for the change in geographic boundaries over time at the sub-provincial level? In particular, I’m wondering if any adjustment is made for boundary differences when calculating the population percentage change between Census years.

 Nora Bohnert at 13:09:17
Hi jasmine.ing,
The projections released this week are produced for Canada, the provinces and territories only. There have however, been other more detailed projections produced by Statistics Canada in the last few years. These project lower levels of geography, such as projections of the diversity of the Canadian population. These projections always use, as a base population, the most recent census-year boundaries. We look forward to releasing new sets of detailed projections (at lower levels of geography) beginning in 2015.

 Carodan at 12:33:00
The text in The Daily indicates that the population of Quebec will continue to decrease in the next 25 years. How come?

 Nora Bohnert at 13:09:43
Hi Carodan,
In fact, all projection scenarios indicate that population of Quebec would increase over the next 25 years. What would decrease, though, is Quebec's share of the total Canadian population. This occurs because growth in other parts of the country would be higher than the levels projected for Quebec.

 andretoronto at 12:37:00
How are these projections determined? What factors do you look at and are there different scenarios - such as possible unknown like an increase/decrease in immigration for example.

 Jonathan Chagnon at 13:11:06
Hello andretoronto,
Thank you for your question. 
When we made our assumptions, we looked at past trends and consulted the community of Canadian demographers to get their opinion on plausible future levels.

In the case of immigration, the levels are, in large part, determined by policies. Every year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada releases immigration targets in their annual immigration plan.

 andretoronto at 12:42:00
How long has Statistics Canada been publishing these kinds of data? What is the purpose of making projections into the future?

 Jonathan Chagnon at 13:15:05
Hello andretoronto,
The first official edition of population projections was published in 1974. We publish new projections approximately every 5 years.
The projections are used primarily by policymakers. For example, they can be used to help policymakers determine the needs for services to the population or future costs of education and health care, assess school attendance in the future, etc.

 mpacey at 12:47:00
Hi, Nora and Jonathan. Thanks for doing the chat session today.
You've noted earlier that the detailed projections at lower levels of geography will be released beginning in 2015. Do you have a more specific timeline? We rely quite heavily on CD projections, and it would be good to have a sense of when we could expect those for Ontario.

 Nora Bohnert at 13:18:10
Hi mpacey,
The forthcoming population projections by Aboriginal identity are planned for release in spring 2015. However, these will be released at the CMA level as opposed to the CD level.
For lower levels of geography, Statistics Canada is now accepting custom requests on a cost-recovery basis. We would be happy to discuss this if you are interested.
Alternatively, I believe that the Ontario Ministry of Finance produces projections at the CD level.

 Stephenjw at 12:49:00
I noticed in most of your projection series you have NL declining when your latest post censal estimates published you have a very small but positive growth from 2011 to 2013. Besides using demographic cohort models to determine your projections do you take into account things like the oil industry attracting enough migration to the province to sustain a flat to positive growth moving forward?

 Nora Bohnert at 13:24:53
Hi Stephenjw,
Our projections are based on an analysis of recent and longer-term demographic trends. Newfoundland and Labrador is a very good example of a province that is particularly sensitive to inteprovincial migration flows. For example, the M5 scenario, based on the most recent trends in interprovincial migration, shows positive growth for the province over the next 25 years. While we do not directly account for changing economic conditions, interprovincial migration trends indirectly reflect economic trends, since people tend to make decisions to move to or from a region based on the prevailing economic conditions in a region.

The reason we have 5 different interprovincial migration scenarios reflects the fact that this component is one of the more uncertain aspects of future population growth.

 Barbara at 12:50:00
Hello, your report states that the demographic weight of Quebec may continue to decline in the next 25 years. How do you explain this projection?

 Jonathan Chagnon at 13:24:53
Hello Barbara,
Most scenarios indicate that Quebec’s demographic weight will decline because the growth rate of Quebec’s population will be lower than that of the other provinces and territories in Canada.
A combination of factors explains this situation. For example, the contribution of international immigration to Quebec’s growth is lower than in Ontario. Also, Quebec usually is on the losing end of its migratory exchanges with the other provinces and territories.

 andretoronto at 12:53:00
The population is aging. Are there areas of the country where you project the reverse happening or at least slowing? Is there a point in time where this will stop happening?

 Nora Bohnert at 13:36:49
Hi andretoronto,
Population aging occurs in all parts of the country, and some provinces and territories, more than others, will experience more rapid aging in the coming decades. While the territories generally have the lowest proportions of seniors, it is also projected that the territories will experience some of the most rapid increases in the senior population, in Canada, over the next 25 years.

That said, Nunavut is the only region in Canada that could experience a decrease in its median age between 2013 and 2038, according to certain scenarios.

 andretoronto at 13:05:00
Over the years, Alberta has known a boom and bust cycle, with many people going migrating there in good economic times and, I assume, leaving when things got more difficult. Is this type of scenario considered when projecting an increased demographic weight for the province?

 Nora Bohnert at 13:36:49
Hi andretoronto,
Of all of the demographic components we project, interprovincial migration is perhaps the closest linked with economic conditions in a region. In these projections, we have explicitly chosen one "most favourable" and one "least favourable" interprovincial migration scenario, based on the different patterns we have observed over the last 30 years.

In the case of Alberta, the M5 scenario is based on the reference period 2009/2010 to 2010/2011, a period during which Alberta, while still experiencing net interprovincial migration gains, experienced gains smaller in comparison to other reference periods for the province. Here, the province experiences lower growth than in other medium-growth scenarios. In contrast, the M4 scenario is the medium-growth scenario where the province experiences the highest growth.

 Barbara at 13:06:00
Hello Jonathan, last week the Institut de la statistique du Québec reported that the Quebec population is expected to reach 10 million in the next 50 years, despite aging of the population. Do Statistics Canada’s recent projections confirm this?

 Jonathan Chagnon at 13:36:49
Hello Barbara,
According to the population projections published by Statistics Canada, in 2038, the population of Quebec is expected to be between 8.7 million (low scenario) and 10.2 million (high scenario).
Statistics Canada’s population projections are produced over a 50-year horizon for Canada and over a 25-year horizon for the provinces and territories.

 ChristineL at 13:07:00
Hello and thank you for doing this chat session. Can you explain why you make projections over 50 years? Does this give us a good idea of the impact that baby boomers will have on the Canadian population?

 Jonathan Chagnon at 13:36:49
Hello ChristineL,
Population projections are developed over a 50-year horizon for Canada and over a 25-year horizon for the provinces and territories.

 ChristineL at 13:09:00
Could you elaborate a little bit more on your mortality projections above age 90? I noticed large differences between StatCan and ISQ in the number of projected centenarians.

 Nora Bohnert at 13:36:49
Hi ChristineL,
The projection of mortality at ages 90 and over is very uncertain for various reasons. Very small populations are involved, meaning that there can be rare occurrences, missing data, or volatile patterns from year to year. Moreover, there is much uncertainty as to how the mortality for this age group might evolve in the coming years, as there is much debate regarding the limit of human longevity. For these reasons, it is not unusual to see some differences regarding the projected number of centenarians in the future.

Statistics Canada limits the horizon of its projections due to the inherent uncertainty in this kind of exercise. Since on average baby boomers today are in their 50s, almost all of them will be out of the population in 2063. Consequently, these projections enable us to measure the effect that they have on the old and very old populations.

 Suresh at 13:13:00
Where may I find stats similar to this but for more recent years? I am looking for dwellings in Toronto that require major or minor repairs, as you may see on the above website.

 Moderator at 13:36:49
Suresh, thank you for your question. Unfortunately, this question is not relevant to the topic of this chat. We will follow up with you by email in the following business days.

 liangpe at 13:16:00
Immigration is driving the population growth in many parts of Canada. The Government has made important changes to the immigration policy over the last few years, and it is now generally more difficult to immigrate to Canada. To what extent are the projections impacted by changes in the country's immigration policy?

 Nora Bohnert at 13:36:49
Hello liangpe,
Since the beginning of 1990, immigration has been the key driver of population growth in Canada. The projection's results shows that it's likely to continue.

The assumptions of our projections are based on the number of immigrants coming to Canada every year. Over the past 20 years, this number has remained fairly stable; around an average of 250,000 immigrants per year, despite changes to immigration policies.

Three assumptions were made regarding immigration, based on the immigration rate: 5.0 per thousand (low-growth scenario), 7.5 per thousand (medium growth), and 9.0 per thousand (high growth).

 jasmine.ing at 13:16:00
Thank you for an informative chat so far.
If I have understood correctly, counts or estimates from the census and/or NHS are is used as the base for StatCan population projections. If this is the case, are any populations excluded from the most recently published population projections? Further, will any populations be excluded from the future projections (such as the aforementioned projections of the Aboriginal identity population)? I ask this because I have noticed that many of the census and NHS figures include only the population living in private households.

 Nora Bohnert at 13:36:49
Hi jasmine.ing,
Our projections program should be considered an extention of Statistics Canada's Population Estimates Program. We use, as a base, the population on July 1, 2013 by age, sex and province/territory of residence, as estimated by Statistics Canada's Population Estimates Program, which includes the entire Canadian population

 alexa at 13:30:00
Are you able to elaborate more on how the projections are aligned to your estimates, and the balance of recent vs longer-term trends?

 Nora Bohnert at 13:46:21
Hi alexa,
Our population projections can be considered an extension of Statistics Canada's Population Estimates Program. Our base population is the population on July 1, 2013 as estimated by the Population Estimates Program. The components of growth that are used in the Population Estimates Program (births, deaths, immigrants, etc.) are the same as those we use in our projections. We also use the Population Estimates data to analyze recent and historical trends to build our assumptions about the various components of growth.

Our medium-growth scenarios tend to reflect a continuation of recent demographic trends, whereas, for our low- and high-growth scenarios, we examine the range of variation that has been observed over a longer reference period. We produce a range of scenarios to reflect the uncertainty about the future. I hope this answers your question, and don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more clarification.

 Moderator at 13:46:00
The chat session is now over. Thank you for your questions and comments! If our experts did not have a chance to respond to your question, we will follow-up with you by email in the next few business days. The full transcript of this chat session will be made available on our website shortly. Have a great day!

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