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2006 Census: Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006: Population of the provinces and territories

Population growth is higher in most provinces, territories

The growth rate has risen since 2001 in every Canadian province except Prince Edward Island, where it was unchanged, and Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, where it is still negative.

The increase in the growth rate for most provinces is attributable in some instances to higher international immigration, in others to gains in migration exchanges with other provinces, and in still others to both factors.

As was the case at the national level, natural increase declined in every province and territory because of population aging, except Alberta and Nunavut where natural increase was on the rise.

Table 1 Population of Canada, provinces and territories in the last 50 years

Two-thirds (66%) of Canada's population growth between 2001 and 2006 was concentrated in just two provinces: Alberta and Ontario. They were also the only two provinces that had a growth rate higher than the national average. Growth also exceeded the national average in the three territories.

At the other extreme, two provinces experienced a population decline between 2001 and 2006: Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan. For Newfoundland and Labrador, the decrease was smaller than in the 1996 to 2001 period.

The population decline in these two provinces is part of a general downward trend since 1986, when their populations peaked. Much of the downward trend is due to net losses in migration exchanges with other provinces.

Table 2 Growth rate for Canada, provinces and territories in the last 50 years

Figure 4 Population growth of provinces and territories, 1996 to 2001 and 2001 to 2006

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