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Alberta continues to lead the country's population growth, bolstered by immigrants and people moving from other provinces.

Alberta's population expanded 0.59 per cent in the second quarter of the year, Statistics Canada said Tuesday. Canada's total population rose 0.4 per cent in the quarter, hitting 33,739,900 people.

Alberta has attracted new residents for years as the province boasted the country's strongest economic expansion and job creation. The trend continued in the second quarter of this year, even as the province's economy slowed. About 3.7 million people now live in Alberta.

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All four provinces in Western Canada tallied higher-than-average demographic growth in the period. Manitoba posted the strongest growth since current record-keeping began in 1971 due to higher immigration. Saskatchewan saw the highest second-quarter growth rate in more than two decades.

Canada's overall increase was largely due to net international migration which, at 84,800, was the second-highest figure for a second quarter since 1972. People are also having more babies. The number of births in Canada was the largest number second-quarter births in 13 years.

"This upward trend in births is also evident in a number of other industrialized countries," Statscan said.

Among other provinces, Ontario continues sluggish growth. Its population growth of 0.34 per cent was the smallest second-quarter increase in 16 years because of interprovincial migration losses and a drop in immigration.

Ontario continues to be the country's most populous province, with 13.1 million people, but this marks the seventh consecutive quarter in which its demographic growth has been below the national average. Ontario has been seeing quarterly interprovincial migration losses since the first quarter of 2003.

Quebec's population rose 0.31 per cent, the biggest second-quarter gain since 1991 amid higher birth rates and more immigrant arrivals.

In the East, Prince Edward Island had the fastest demographic growth rate of the Atlantic provinces, at 0.53 per cent.

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