COVID-19 Puts the Brakes On Canada’s Population Growth - New Canadian Media
population growth down

COVID-19 Puts the Brakes On Canada’s Population Growth

Population growth slows in nine Canadian provinces because of decrease in international migration, reports Statistics Canada.

International migration has slowed down because of the global pandemic, causing Canada’s rate of population growth to plummet to record lows, reports Statistics Canada.

“The restrictions placed on international borders and the subsequent drop in international migration levels had the largest impact on population growth in 2019/2020,” the federal number-crunching agency said in its latest Canadian population estimates.

Statistics Canada measured the nation’s population growth from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020. They estimated that on July 1, 2020, the nation’s population was at 38,005,238, up by 411,854 (+1.1 per cent) from July 1, 2019. This is after two years of population growth exceeding 500,000. These new numbers reflect lows last seen in the 2015/2016 period. 

Population numbers down

Canada admitted 284,387 immigrants in 2019-2020, down from the 2017-2019 period when over 300,000 were admitted annually. The vast majority of these immigrants arrived before the pandemic, with 34,271 arriving in the second quarter of 2020.

The decrease in international migration occurred throughout most of the country, driven by the three largest provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, Statistics Canada said. Population growth in Ontario slowed from 1.6 per cent a year earlier to 1.3 per cent in 2019/2020 or 46,725 fewer people. Population growth also slowed in Quebec (an increase of 27,097 fewer people) and British Columbia (an increase of 23,722 fewer people).

The largest percentage point drop in the growth rate occurred in Prince Edward Island (from +2.5 per cent to +1.5 per cent).

The number of non-permanent residents rose by 77,172 in 2019-2020, less than half as many as in 2018-2019 (+168,662), due to fewer international students and asylum claimants in the second quarter of 2020.

Here are some of the other key findings from the report:

  • The aging of Canada’s population continues and the average age was 41.4 years on July 1, up slightly from a year earlier (41.3 years). This average has risen every year since comparable record-keeping began in 1971. The share of seniors aged 65 years and older continued to grow, reaching 18.0 per cent on July 1.
  • There were 11,517 centenarians in Canada on July 1, up by 10.4 per cent year-on-year, nearly ten times the population growth rate of the overall population. This was the highest growth for the centenarian group since this age group was first estimated in 2001, and their growth has exceeded that of the overall population during this period (2001 to 2020). Since women have a higher life expectancy than men, the vast majority of centenarians are women (81.3 per cent).
  • While population aging is occurring in every region of the country, some provinces are aging more rapidly than others. Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest share of people aged 65 and older (22.3 per cent) and the lowest share of children aged 0 to 14 (13.4 per cent) among the provinces. Saskatchewan had the highest proportion of children aged 0 to 14 (19.6 per cent), while Alberta (13.8 per cent) had the lowest proportion of seniors aged 65 and older. 
  • In the territories, higher fertility and mortality rates explain why there are more children than seniors. Nunavut had both the highest proportion of children aged 0 to 14 (31.7 per cent) and the lowest share of seniors aged 65 and older (4.0 per cent) in the country.

Statistics Canada said it expects the gap between the number of seniors and the number of children to widen.

According to its medium growth scenario, seniors could account for over one-fifth of the population by 2025 and could reach one-quarter by 2059. In contrast, the share of children aged 0 to 14 is expected to remain around 15 per cent to 16 per cent over the same period.

Fabian Dawson is NCM's Local Journalism Initiative (LJI) immigration policy beat reporter. A multiple-award winning journalist, Fabian Dawson is an internationally acclaimed author, filmmaker and media expert. Born and raised in Malaysia, Dawson is of Indian origin. He migrated to Vancouver in 1988.  As a journalist, Dawson’s work has taken him all over Asia, Europe, North and Central America.  He has been cited for excellence in journalism multiple times since 2002 by the Jack Webster Foundation while many of the stories he has directed have won national and international journalism awards.Dawson was named the 2019 recipient of the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award at Jack Webster Awards.

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