Canada’s population growth stunted: StatsCan

By James Langton | September 29, 2020 | Last updated on September 29, 2020
2 min read
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Covid-19 is having a dramatic impact on Canada’s demographics. The combination of more deaths and, more importantly, the choking off of immigration, has downshifted the population growth rate from a record high to a record low, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.

Canada’s population topped the 38-million mark for the first time in the second quarter, StatsCan reported, but it was only up 0.1% from the previous quarter.

By comparison, the growth rate in the third quarter of 2019 was 0.6% — which was the highest level since comparable records began in 1971.

StatsCan said that the plunging growth rate is largely due to the imposition of border restrictions starting in March, which has hammered immigration — the primary source of Canadian population growth.

“The resulting decrease in migration from March to June, combined with the excess mortality, led to record low population growth for the second quarter of 2020,” StatsCan said.

In Q2, Canada added just 25,384 new people, compared with over 208,000 in Q3 2019.

At the same time, the aging of the Canadian population has continued unabated.

The average age in Canada ticked up to 41.4 years as of July 1, the share of the population aged over 65 continued rising to 18%, and the number of those aged over 100 hit a new record level (11,517), StatsCan said.

While most of the deaths from Covid-19 have been in those aged over 80, the proportion of octogenarian deaths remains relatively small — 6,164 deaths in a population of 1.66 million, the agency reported.

Similarly, the drop in immigration, while critical to Canada’s growth rate, isn’t large enough in the context of the overall population to impact its age structure, StatsCan noted.

“Neither the changes in the number of deaths nor those linked to international migration were significant compared with the overall size of the population,” StatsCan said.

Given the continued aging of the population, the gap between the number of seniors and the number of children continues to widen, StatsCan reported, with seniors now accounting for 18% of the population, while children make up 15.9% of the population.

“It is projected that the number and share of seniors will continue to increase over the next few decades,” StatsCan said.

According to the agency’s latest projections, “seniors could account for over one-fifth of the population by 2025 and could reach one-quarter by 2059.”

Meanwhile, the proportion of children is expected to remain around 15% to 16% over the same period, it said.

StatsCan also reported that Canada’s total fertility rate hit a record low in 2019.

The total fertility rate — the number of children women are having over the course of their reproductive lives — declined to 1.47 births per woman in 2019.

The rate has been below the replacement rate of 2.1 — the fertility rate needed for the population to replace itself — since 1971, StatsCan said.

“With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is possible that birth rates may have changed. In addition, if immigration levels were to fall, fertility rates would become more important for population growth to be sustained,” StatsCan said.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.