As expected, Canada’s population grew through the final quarter of 2014, reaching 37.7 million people by the end of last year. What was unexpected, however, was the pace of growth: in adding only 27,000 new residents, Canada posted its smallest three-month gain since quarterly estimates were first published by Statistics Canada back in 1972. To put this into further perspective, the national population has added an average of 46,000 people in the fourth quarter over the past five years (2009 through 2013).
The primary factor driving this slow-down was the net loss of people through international migration. This decline was driven by a net loss of 40,000 non-permanent residents in Q4 2014, as the four-year window originally made available for temporary foreign workers to stay in Canada comes to a close on April 1, 2015. In light of this, we should expect further declines in the number of non-permanent residents through Q1 2015.
The loss of non-permanent residents was not helped much by the slow pace of immigration, with the 52,175 immigrants in Q4 2014 being ten percent below the Q4 average for the past five years. Meanwhile, emigration remained relatively unchanged from the same period a year ago, at 12,700.
Here in BC, our population growth was relatively flat, with the province adding only 1,325 people in Q4. While natural increase (the difference between births and deaths) added 1,900 people, and net interprovincial migration added another 2,500--BC’s largest Q4 addition since 2007--the province lost 3,150 people through net international migration. As was the case for Canada as a whole, this was driven by the loss of non-permanent residents (to the tune of a net outflow of 6,950 people in Q4).
What about Alberta, you ask? Well, this was another surprise: even in the face of the most significant oil price shock since the depths of the 2009 recession, the Statistics Canada data show that Alberta still managed to add 14,000 people--4,200 of which came through interprovincial migration.
For more details on how the population in each province and territory changed in Q4 2014, click here to view our interactive map.