Population Counts: Canada, Ontario and Regions
Raw Census Counts and Net Undercoverage
- On March 13, 2007, Statistics Canada released the first population counts from the 2006 Census. The Census counted 31.6 million people in Canada and 12.16 million in Ontario on May 16, 2006.
- While the goal of the Census is to count every resident on Census day, this falls short in two ways. Undercoverage occurs when people are missed by the Census. Overcoverage occurs when people are counted when they should not be, or counted more than once. The net effect is called net undercoverage.
- Overall, undercoverage is highest for young adults and larger for men than women.
- Historically, Ontario usually has one of the highest net undercoverage rates among the provinces. For the 2001 Census, Ontario's net undercoverage rate was 3.8 per cent (452,000 people), the second highest after BC at 4 per cent.
- The results from the studies conducted to assess the net undercoverage for the 2006 Census will not be released until the Fall of 2008. However, if the net undercoverage is in the range of that observed in the previous Census, the adjusted estimate of 2006 population for Ontario should be between 12.6 and 12.7 million.
- Because of net undercoverage, this fact sheet looks largely at shares and growth rates between the 2001 and 2006 Censuses rather than population levels.
Ontario: Half of Canada's Population Growth
- Between the 2001 and 2006 Censuses, Canada's population grew 1.6 million or 5.4 per cent. Almost half the national growth occurred in Ontario. In Ontario population grew by 6.6 per cent, a higher rate of growth than between 1996 and 2001 but much lower than in the 1950s and 1960s.
- Alberta and Ontario were the only provinces with growth rates above the national average.
- Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan continued to experience population decline, though the decline was slightly smaller for Newfoundland than it was between 1996 and 2001.
Population Grew Faster in Most Census Divisions
- Population growth rates accelerated between 2001 and 2006 in most Census Divisions (CDs) of the province compared to the previous five-year period.
- Two-thirds (66.3%) of Ontario's population growth between 2001 and 2006 was concentrated in just five Census Divisions, four of which were in the GTA: Peel, York, Halton, Durham as well as Simcoe. These five CDs were among 11 that saw faster growth than Ontario as a whole (6.6%) over the period.
- By contrast, seven out of the 49 Census Divisions of the province experienced population declines: Huron and six of the 11 northern CDs. However, between 1996 and 2001, 19 CDs experienced population declines.
GTA Continues to Grow Rapidly
- Between 2001 and 2006, the GTA's population increased 9.3 per cent, accounting for almost two-thirds (63.2%) of Ontario's population growth over the period, somewhat less than the share of growth during the 1996-2001 period.
- Almost 46 per cent of the provincial population lived in the GTA in 2006, up from 44.5 per cent in 2001. Other regions saw slight declines in their shares of provincial population.
Regional Population Growth
- Central Ontario's population grew 6.5 per cent over the period, accounting for 21.8 per cent of provincial growth.
- The population of Eastern Ontario also saw healthy growth of 3.9 per cent between 2001 and 2006, accounting for 8.1 per cent of provincial growth.
- Population growth accelerated in the Southwest with a 3.5-per-cent rise over the period, compared to a 2.7-per-cent gain over the previous five-year period. This represented 6.9 per cent of Ontario's growth.
- Northern Ontario's population remained virtually unchanged between 2001 and 2006, but its share of provincial population dropped from 6.9 to 6.5 per cent.
- Within the North, five CDs saw growth (Kenora, Manitoulin, Parry Sound, Nipissing and Greater Sudbury), with growth rates below the provincial average.
Ontario's Population Remains Highly Urbanized
- Since 2001, most of Ontario's population growth has taken place in urban areas. In 2006, more than 85 per cent of Ontarians were living in urban areas, virtually unchanged from 2001.
- Over the 2001–2006 period, 91 per cent of Ontario's total population growth occurred within the 15 Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) of the province.
- A Census Metropolitan Area is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a large urban core. A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more must live in that core.
- For the first time in 2006, Barrie, Guelph, Brantford and Peterborough were considered CMAs for the Census.
- The CMA of Barrie was the fastest-growing CMA in Canada between 2001 and 2006, growing 19.2 per cent over the period. Oshawa was third nationally, just behind Calgary (13.4%), with growth of 11.6 per cent.
- Toronto (9.2%), Kitchener (8.9%) and Guelph (8.2%) CMAs also grew faster than the provincial average.
- After losing population between 1996 and 2001, the CMAs of Thunder Bay and Greater Sudbury experienced slight population gains over the 2001–2006 period.
Ontario's Mid-Size Urban Centres
- In addition to the 15 CMAs, there are 28 midsize urban centres in Ontario designated as Census Agglomerations (CAs). These are urban areas that have an urban core with a population of between 10,000 and 50,000.
- In 2006, 9.3 per cent of Ontarians lived in these 28 CAs, down slightly from 9.6 per cent in 2001.
- Five CAs saw faster growth than Ontario as a whole over 2001–2006: Collingwood, Kawartha Lakes, Centre Wellington, Ingersoll and Woodstock.
- Four CAs located in the North experienced population declines over the same period: Kenora, Elliot Lake, Timmins and Temiskaming Shores.
Contact Victor Caballero (416) 325-0825 / Alex Munger (416) 325-0102.
Office of Economic Policy
Labour and Demographic Analysis Branch