Moncton and Cape Breton record the highest population growth in the country

The city of Moncton in New Brunswick is experiencing one of the highest population growth rates in the country, as is the Cape Breton region in Nova Scotia. A Statistics Canada report shows that the majority of Atlantic cities have seen their populations grow due to immigration.

According to Statistics Canada data released Wednesday, nearly 75% of Canadians lived in one of the census metropolitan areas (CMA), indicating that the country is becoming increasingly urbanized.

Moncton is one of these CMA. With that of Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo in Ontario, it experiences the highest rate of population growth in the country, between July 1, 2022 and July 1, 2023, with a rate of 6% for these two CMA. Calgary follows closely with a population growth rate of 5.9%.

Population growth

City Growth rate 2022 to 2023
Moncton (CMA) 6.0%
Halifax (CMA) 3.9%
Charlottetown (AR) 4.7%
Saint John, NL (CMA) 3.2%

CMA: census metropolitan area
AR: census agglomeration

Source: Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada explains this increase by strong international migration. Across the country, we note that the net increase in the number of non-permanent residents exceeded that of immigrants who come to settle in the long term, for the first time since 2001-2022.

Non-permanent residents refer to a person from a foreign country whose usual place of residence is Canada and who holds a work permit or study permit or who has applied for refugee status.

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A citizenship ceremony on April 17, 2019 on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick

However, in Moncton, the trend is different. Growth is mainly due to long-term immigration, rather than temporary residents.

In Moncton, these are people who come to settle, who receive their permanent residence. Compared to temporary immigration where there is more volatilityexplains Patrick Charbonneau, demographer for Statistics Canada.

He specifies that the CMA Moncton welcomed 5,000 immigrants and approximately 3,900 temporary residents in the year under review.

Charlottetown and Cape Breton also at the top of the list

For smaller municipalities, namely census agglomerations (CA), the majority of them also experienced demographic growth.

Two of them in the Atlantic experienced the highest growth increases in the country, with Cape Breton (6.4%) in first place and Charlottetown (4.7%) in third place.

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The need for affordable housing is still acute in Prince Edward Island.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Julien Lecacheur

International migration is the primary cause of the strong growth recorded in Charlottetown.

In Cape Breton, it’s the opposite. What is particular is that we are mainly talking about a contribution from temporary immigration in this case. Temporary workers, international students or asylum seekersspecifies Patrick Charbonneau.

More affordable housing: the main reason

Economist Richard Saillant is not surprised to see the population growth in the city of Moncton and Cape Breton.

According to him, the common denominator is that housing in these municipalities is more affordable and attracts people who can no longer afford to live in the Canadian real estate hotspots.

>>Richard Saillant.>>

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Economist Richard Saillant maintains that a demographic slowdown is expected in the coming years.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Michel Corriveau

We have an influx of what I would call housing refugees, particularly from southern Ontario, but also new arrivals to the country who are choosing places that are less unaffordable, and New Brunswick and the Maritimes in general are first choice destinationsexplains Richard Saillant.

An increase also in rural areas

Nationwide, the rate of population growth in rural areas increased by 1.1%. In the Atlantic, this proportion is even higher, between 1.5 and 1.7% for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and 3.1% for Prince Edward Island. Only Newfoundland and Labrador experienced a slight decline.

Richard Saillant explains that this phenomenon of migration towards rural regions also manifested itself in 2021-2022 and that the availability of more affordable housing is the main reason.

People are distributed throughout the province and I would say from the Maritimes region where housing is available at a more competitive price than elsewhere in the country.

A demographic slowdown to be expected

This strong demographic growth could run out of steam in the coming years. Richard Saillant recalls that Ottawa wants to reduce the number of temporary residents, from 6.2% to 5% by 2027.

We are going to enter a period of great demographic slowdown, I am not saying that the region will stop growing, it will continue to grow and undoubtedly more quickly than in the rest of the country because housing is less unaffordable.he explains.

>>Marc Miller with Canadian flags behind him.>>

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Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced in March that the proportion of temporary immigrants would decline in the years to come.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Spencer Colby

He adds that this respite will allow municipalities to increase their capacity to build, but that this will be done in a context of generalized labor shortage, due to a smaller flow of newcomers ready to work in this field.

When the main engine, which is international immigration, runs out of steam dramatically, we should expect much lower migratory flows. From next year, we are entering a new regime.

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