The population of British Columbia has grown by 7.6 per cent since 2016, figures released by Statistics Canada for the 2021 Census show.
According to the agency, the province’s population has increased to 5,000,879 people, up from 4,648,055 in 2016.
Canada’s overall population grew 5.2 per cent to 36,991,981. B.C.’s population growth was beaten only the Yukon, which grew by 12.1 per cent, and Prince Edward Island, which grew by eight per cent. B.C. remains the third largest province in Canada.
According to Statistics Canada, the country remains the fastest growing in the G7, at nearly twice the rate of the organization. The main driver of population growth, the agency noted, was immigration, not fertility. Immigrants account for around 80 per cent of new people in Canada between 2016 and 2021.
The agency noted that the population grew fastest in 2019 and slowed to its lowest rate in 2020 as the pandemic hit, closing Canada’s borders.
Statistics Canada said some of that slowdown might be pandemic-induced. The agency points to one of its studies done late last year that suggested adults under 50 wanted to have fewer children than previously planned.
At this point, the agency said, Canada’s isn’t headed to a situation where deaths outnumber births like in Italy and Japan, at least within the next 50 years.
The details released this morning are the first set of findings from last year’s census taken against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wednesday’s release also notes that the Maritimes grew faster than the Prairies for the first time since the 1940s, largely on the back of immigration. Newfoundland and Labrador was the lone province to see a decline.
The country’s large urban centres witnessed a growth in their populations between 2016 and 2021, and the number of cities with more than 100,000 people grew to 41 from 35. Rural areas, too, grew, albeit at a far slower pace than their metropolitan cousins.
Statistics Canada plans to add more flourishes to the paint-by-numbers exercise as the year rolls on to reveal more information about how the country has aged, changes among Indigenous populations, and working during the pandemic.
The pandemic is expected to have an effect on census results, although experts suggest the country may have to wait a few years to learn whether COVID-19 caused a permanent or temporary shift in the portrait of the population.
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