10. Changing populations

Canada is home to 2,238,485 children age 5 years and younger.62 They live in a country whose population is growing, aging and becoming more diverse and more urbanized.

Canada’s population maintained a steady .02 percent growth into 2011, reaching 34,349,200 people.63 Alberta registered the fastest increase (+0.4%), while Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories experienced slight population declines.64 Children are growing up in cities. More than 80 percent of Canadians live in towns and cities but urbanization varies by region. The populations of Ontario and British Columbia are 85 percent urban compared to 50 percent in New Brunswick or 45 percent in Prince Edward Island. The majority of urban dwellers, 65 percent, are attracted to the big fi ve metropolitan areas: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. This trend is likely to continue as young adults from rural areas continue to migrate to urban centres. However, the biggest contributor to population growth is international immigration.65

Figure 1.12

Figure 1.13

Figure 1.14

Immigration is important to all parts of Canada. Newcomers who were once drawn to Ontario are increasingly looking for opportunities in other parts of the country. Between 2000 and 2010, almost 15,000 fewer immigrants went to Ontario, while Quebec gained an additional 18,000 newcomers.The Prairies and Maritimes noted remarkable changes. Manitoba more than doubled its immgrant population, while during this time period PEI’s immigrant population increased by over 1,000 percent! Sustained immigration, along with the diversification of the origins of immigrants, contributes to our ethnocultural and religious diversity. By the time Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2017, roughly one in every five people could be a member of a visible minority.66

Newcomers are important to population stability. They tend to be younger than the Canadian-born population, balancing the impact of the rapidly aging baby boom generation who will turn 65 years of age over the next two decades. But even with immigration, the number of senior citizens could more than double, outnumbering children for the first time by 2032.67

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