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

Alberta: the engine of population growth in the Prairie provinces

Close to 95% of the Prairie provinces' population growth between 2001 and 2006 took place in Alberta, which was the fastest-growing Canadian province during the period. Manitoba accounted for the rest of the growth, as Saskatchewan's population shrank between 2001 and 2006.

The number of Albertans increased by 10.6% between 2001 and 2006, double the national growth rate (+5.4%). Alberta's growth rate was similar to the rate for the 1996 to 2001 period (+10.3%). If the province continues to grow by 10% every five years in the future, its population will likely double between 2006 and the mid-2030s.

This photograph shows the city of Calgary at night.During the 2001 to 2006 period, Alberta's population passed the 3 million mark and 3,290,350 persons were enumerated on May 16, 2006. During the same period, Alberta's share of Canada's total population topped 10% for the first time.

While gains through migration exchanges with the rest of the country are still the main factor in Alberta's population growth, international immigration has been contributing increasing numbers of people over the last few years. Alberta is also the only Canadian province whose natural increase did not decline between 2001 and 2006. Alberta's booming economy, bolstered in particular by the strength of the oil industry, has clearly played a role in the province's rapid population growth.

This photograph shows the city of Winnipeg.Between 2001 and 2006, Manitoba's population (1,148,401 persons in 2006) increased at a faster pace (+2.6%) than during the previous intercensal period (+0.5%). This marks a return to a growth rate similar to the levels recorded between 1981 and 1996. The increase in population growth is attributable to higher international immigration in recent years.

In Saskatchewan, the population was 968,157 in 2006, down 10,776 from 2001. However, the rate of decline remained unchanged relative to the 1996 to 2001 period, at -1.1%. This is the second time in 50 years that Saskatchewan's population decreased in two consecutive intercensal periods; the first time was between 1966 and 1976.

This photograph shows bales of hay drying in the Prairie sun.Significant losses in migration exchanges with other provinces, especially neighbouring Alberta, accounted for much of the decline, which occurred despite the fact that Saskatchewan had higher fertility than any other province (an average of 1.9 children per woman since 2001). Saskatchewan's net migration losses to Alberta averaged more than 10,000 people a year between 2001 and 2006.

The total population of the three Prairie provinces in the 2006 Census was 5,406,908, which is 333,585 more than in 2001. The Prairie provinces' share of the country's total population increased slightly in the last five years, from 16.9% to 17.1%.

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