Highlights from the first release of information from the 2006 census:
Higher levels of immigration boosted Canada’s population by 5.4 per cent since last census in 2001.
National population on census day, May 16, 2006, was 31,612,897.
Only one-third of the population gain was attributed to “natural increase” — growth that results from more births than deaths. The country’s aging population and low fertility rate (1.5 children per family) means immigration could become the sole source of growth by 2030.
The arrival of 1.2 million immigrants between 2001 and 2006 pushed Canada’s growth rate higher than any other G8 country during that period.
Two provinces were primarily responsible for the country’s growth.
Ontario and booming Alberta, which led all provinces with a whopping 10.6 per cent population increase. Most of Alberta’s growth was due to Canadians from other provinces moving there for work. Ontario’s 6.6 per cent increase came mostly from immigration.
Newfoundland and Labrador (-1.5 per cent) and Saskatchewan (-1.1) were the only two provinces that lost population since the last census. The Atlantic Region as a whole experienced virtually no growth. Fifty years ago, the Atlantic provinces accounted for 11 per cent of the country’s population. Now it’s 7.2 per cent.
For the first time, the population of the three northern territories totals more than 100,000. Part of the growth can be explained by Nunavut’s high fertility rate, which is double the national average.
The urbanization of Canada is continuing unabated. More than two-thirds of the country’s population lives in or around 33 major urban centres. The metropolitan areas of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton account for almost half of the country’s population.
Less than 20 per cent of Canadians were living in small towns and rural areas in 2006. A century ago, about 60 per cent lived in rural areas.