October 15, 2013
Canadian provincial population trends are being torn asunder (Part 2)
The foreign component of Alberta’s population has become more important as well. Immigration to the province reached a new peak in the latest year, +37,000.
It should also be noted that Quebec chalked up a record number of immigrant arrivals in 2012-13, +56,000.
I’ll have more to say on the foreign component of the population increase a little further along.
In 1982-83, Alberta’s share of the nation’s total population was 9.4%. It has since risen to 11.4%. That two percentage point increase doesn’t convey the enormity of the shifts underway.
Over the past 30 years, Canada’s total population has grown by nearly 40%. While that’s an impressive figure, consider that the comparable gain in Alberta’s population has been nearly 70%.
Among the provinces, B.C. is next at almost +60%.
Ontario’s increase of +50% has been double Quebec’s +25%.
The population of the Atlantic region has stayed almost flat, only +4%.
There’s another way of looking at the composition of the nation’s population that is, in some ways, more informative.
There is a natural division of three almost equal portions: the East, comprised of the Atlantic and Quebec, with 30% of the nation’s total population; Ontario, with 39%; and the West, made up of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C., accounting for 31%.
Please note that the population of the West now exceeds the East. That’s been a relatively recent development.
Many analysts think this has tremendous significance for the country as a whole in terms of establishing where political power resides. John Ibbitson, chief Ottawa-based correspondent for the Globe & Mail newspaper, elabourated on the subject during lunch at CanaData’s recent Construction Industry Forecasts Conference.
Three decades ago, the East’s share (35%) of the total population was a virtual match for Ontario (36%), with the West a step back (29%).
I mentioned that I would return to the topic of immigration.
Two-thirds of Canada’s population change of +404,000 in the latest year was due to “net” immigration (i.e., immigrant arrivals less emigrants).
The out-sized weighting for immigration hasn’t always been the case. Between 1982 and 1992, the relationship was the reverse, with net immigration providing only one-third of the total population gain each year.
In that earlier time frame, the natural increase (births minus deaths) played twice as large a role.
For the past four years, the nation’s annual “gross” immigration (i.e., before taking emigration into account) has surpassed 250,000.
Mr. Ibbitson points out that the Atlantic Region, faced with chronically high unemployment, hasn’t encouraged new arrivals — never mind that “more people” equals “more income” equals “more spending” equals “more output”.
Quebec has a preference for French-speaking immigrants, which places people from Haiti and North Africa at the head of the queue. Such individuals are often Muslim, which contributes to a religious divide. The proposed Charter of Values has been one by-product.
Ontario and points west accept people from all over the world, with China, India and the Philippines often vying to be the number one supplier-nation in any given year.
Ontario’s share of immigrant arrivals is in decline. From 1982-83 through 2007-08, the province welcomed between 44% and 60% of all new immigrants to Canada. Lately, the proportion has been trending down to around 40%.
Canada’s annual average “real” (i.e., inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) has increased fastest among G8 nations since the recession.
Statistics Canada’s demographic report points out that the same has been true for population growth rates.
The size of Canada’s economy is ranked number 11 in the world.
As for the number of immigrants living (i.e., the “stock” as opposed to the annual figure) in this country, we’re number eight, according to figures from the United Nations’ report Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2013 Revision.
Almost all of the countries ahead of us have much larger total populations.
Number one for resident immigrants is the United States (45.8 million), followed by Russia (11.0 million), Germany (9.8 million), Saudi Arabia (9.1 million), the United Arab Emirates (7.8 million), the United Kingdom (also 7.8 million) and France (7.4 million).
Australia is in ninth position (6.5 million), while Spain (6.5 million) rounds out the Top 10.
In a separate calculation of number of immigrant residents as a percentage of total population among the aforementioned Top 10, Canada is fourth with 20.7%.
We’re positioned behind the UAE (a huge 83.7%), Saudi Arabia (31.4%) and Australia (27.7%).