Shrinking population bad news for Atlantic Canada's policy makers
AMHERST, N.S. – Declining population is going to place tremendous pressure on small, rural communities across the Maritimes.
The population of rural Newfoundland and Labrador has continued to shrink, according to the latest Canadian census.
With information on population and dwelling counts up first, Statistics Canada started the release of data collected in Census 2016 Feb. 8.
The news was good for the Avalon Peninsula, where more than half the province’s population lives.
Off the Avalon, however, populations in many areas showed signs of continued erosion since the last census was conducted five years ago.
The South Coast-Burin Peninsula economic region was hit the hardest. That area of the province saw its population dip 4.6 per cent between 2011 to 2016, from 37,657 to 35,932.
There were slight drops in two of the three other economic regions identified in the census, as well.
Notre Dame-Central Bonavista Bay’s population fell from 109,111 to 108,231, a decrease of 0.8 per cent, while West Coast-Northern Peninsula-Labrador slipped by 0.1 percent, from 105,358 to 105,205.
The population on the Avalon, on the other hand, jumped by three per cent, from 262,410 to 270,348.
Population growth was solid in the five identified census metropolitan areas (CMA) in Newfoundland and Labrador.
St. John’s CMA population increased 4.6 per cent to 205,955; Corner Brook climbed 1.6 per cent to 31,917; Bay Roberts jumped two per cent to 11,083; Gander rose 4.3 per cent to 13,234; and Grand Falls-Windsor grew 3.2 per cent to 14,171.
A look at many of the other population centres around the province shows mostly population drops, however: Bishop’s Falls, 2,581 (-2.9); Bonavista, 3,140 (-5.0); Channel Port aux Basques, 3,665 (-4.0); Labrador City, 8,622 (-2.0); Happy Valley-Goose Bay, 6,408 (-1.7); Marystown, 5,697 (-6.0); St. Anthony, 2,049 (-4.6); Stephenville, 7,114 (-0.5); Deer Lake, 4,602 (-1.1); Grand Bank, 2,230, (-5.5); Wabana, 1,325, (-6.5); Burgeo, 1,307 (-10.7).
Clarenville-Shoal Harbour, where the population jumped 6.2 per cent to 5,809, was among the major rural towns where population increased. Carbonear also climbed 3.3 per cent to 6,520. Lewisporte’s population rose 2.3 per cent, to 2,174.
Overall, Newfoundland and Labrador gained just over 5,000 additional residents in the past five years. The province’s population increased one per cent to 519,716. According to the data, the population density per square kilometre remained at 1.4. The number of private dwellings increased from 250,275 to 265,739.
The Canadian population increased by five per cent, from 33,476,688 to 35,151,728, since Census 2011.
Census 2016 reveals 37 per cent of Canadians lived in the 15 largest municipalities in the country. Three municipalities were home to more than one million people: Toronto (2.7 million), Montréal (1.7 million) and Calgary (1.2 million).
Additional data and analysis on different topics from Census 2016 will roll out throughout the year with age and sex and type of dwelling up next on May 3.