The West: Leading the country in growth
Saskatchewan’s population saw an increase of more than 65,000 people from 2006, the first time in census history since 1986 that the province's population has topped 1 million.
The four Canadian cities with the highest rates of population growth since 2006 are in Western Canada – Calgary, 12.6 per cent; Edmonton, 12.1 per cent; Saskatoon, 11.4 per cent; and Kelowna, 10.8 per cent.
Fuelled by the resource and energy sectors, these Western cities have lured people from other provinces as well as new immigrants with the promise of jobs. In Saskatoon, population growth increased from 3.5 per cent between 2001 and 2006 to 11. 4 per cent between 2006 and 2011. Kelowna, in contrast, is a retirees haven with a warm and dry climate, and a growing wine industry.
Toronto: The story outside the city
Toronto is pushing its boundaries with population growth concentrated in the northern and western ends of the GTA, as well as the downtown core along Lake Ontario.
While the city’s population growth rate increased by 4.5 per cent, the real change was in Brampton, which jumped by 20.8 per cent fuelled by an influx of immigrants from South Asia and, in particular, growth in the Sikh community.
To the north, municipalities such as Newmarket and King City initially saw high population growth rates, but now suburbs closest to Toronto, such as Richmond Hill and Markham, are leading the pack, perhaps due to commuters feeling the pinch of rising gas prices.
Barrie saw the biggest changes: Initially the growth of Barrie led the way from 1996 to 2001 with a rate of 25.1 per cent, but has been steadily declining since, falling to 5.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011 – slightly below the national average of 5.9 per cent.
In contrast, Milton was the municipality with the fastest rate of growth at 56.5 per cent.
The East: Turning it around
Population growth for Newfoundland and Labrador was positive for the first time since the period from 1981 to 1986, with fewer people leaving the coast for job markets in central Canada and the Prairies. That faster growth was also present in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, which both saw higher numbers of immigrants.
At the city level, Fredericton’s population growth rate was one of the highest in the Atlantic provinces at 11.3 per cent, followed by Moncton at 7.7. per cent and St. John’s at 5.5 per cent.