Population Counts: Canada, Ontario and Regions
Raw Census Counts and Net Undercoverage
- On February 8, 2012, Statistics Canada released the first population counts from the 2011 Census. The Census counted 33.48 million people in Canada and 12.85 million in Ontario on May 10, 2011.
- 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 combined effect is called net undercoverage.
- Historically, Ontario usually has one of the highest net undercoverage rates among the provinces. For the 2006 Census, Ontario’s net undercoverage rate was 3.7 per cent (466,000 people).
- Estimates of net undercoverage for the 2011 Census will not be available until the coverage studies have been completed. However, if the net undercoverage is in the range observed in the previous Census, the adjusted estimate of the 2011 population for Ontario should be between 13.2 and 13.4 million.
- The current estimate of the total population in Ontario on July 1, 2011 is 13.4 million.
- Because of net undercoverage, this fact sheet looks largely at shares and growth rates between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses rather than population levels.
Population Growth by Province
- Except Northwest Territories, where the population remained unchanged, all provinces and territories experienced population growth between 2006 and 2011.
- Between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses, Canada’s population grew 1.86 million or 5.9 per cent. About 37 per cent of the national growth occurred in Ontario. Ontario population grew 5.7 per cent, modestly lower than the national growth rate.
- Yukon and Alberta had the fastest population growth, at 11.6 per cent and 10.8 percent, followed by Nunavut (8.3%), British Columbia (7.0%) and Saskatchewan (6.7%).
Population Growth Varied Significantly Across Census Divisions
- Within Ontario, population grew fastest in York, at 15.7 per cent. This and seven other Census Divisions (CDs) in Ontario had a population growth rate higher than the rate for the province as a whole.
- Two-thirds (67.8%) of Ontario’s population growth between 2006 and 2011 was concentrated in just six Census Divisions, four of which were in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA): York, Halton, Peel, Ottawa, Brant and Durham.
- By contrast, 13 out of the 49 Census Divisions of the province experienced population declines; seven of these were in the North. The rate of decline was largest in Kenora, at 10.6 per cent.
GTA Continues to Grow Rapidly
- Between 2006 and 2011, the GTA’s population increased 9.0 per cent. Its population growth accounted for 72.1 per cent of Ontario’s total population growth over the period, more than the share of growth during the 2001-2006 period (63.2%).
- About 47 per cent of the provincial population lived in the GTA in 2011, up from 45.7 per cent in 2006. Other regions saw slight declines in their shares of provincial population.
Regional Population Growth
- Central Ontario’s population grew 3.6 per cent over the period, accounting for 14.1 per cent of provincial growth.
- The population of Eastern Ontario also saw a healthy growth of 5.9 per cent between 2006 and 2011, accounting for 13.6 per cent of provincial growth.
- Population growth slowed down in the Southwest, increasing only 0.8 over the period, compared to a 3.5 per cent increase over the previous five-year period. This region accounted for 1.8 per cent of Ontario’s growth.
- Northern Ontario’s population decreased by 1.4 per cent between 2006 and 2011. Its share of provincial population fell to 6.0 per cent from 6.5 per cent in 2006.
- Within the North, four CDs saw growth (Manitoulin, Parry Sound, Nipissing and Greater Sudbury), with growth rates below the provincial average.
Large Urban Centres Continue to Grow Faster
- Over the 2006–2011 period, 98 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 has a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more must live in that core.
- The Toronto CMA was the fastest-growing CMA in Ontario between 2006 and 2011, increasing 9.2 per cent over the period, followed by Ottawa-Gatineau (8.9%), Brantford (8.7%), and Oshawa (7.7%).
- Between 2006 and 2011 six CMAs in other provinces grew faster than the Toronto CMA: Calgary (12.6%), Edmonton (12.1%), Saskatoon (11.4%), Kelowna (10.8%), Moncton (9.7%), and Vancouver (9.3%).
- Windsor and Thunder Bay were the only CMAs in Canada experiencing population declines over the 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 between 10,000 and 50,000.
- In 2011, 8.8 per cent of Ontarians lived in these 28 CAs, down slightly from 9.3 per cent in 2006.
- Collingwood and Petawawa are two CAs that saw faster growth over the 2006-2011 period than Ontario as a whole.
- A total of nine CAs experienced small or moderate population declines between 2006 and 2011. Three of these CAs were located in the North: Sault Ste. Marie, Elliot Lake, and Temiskaming Shores. The other CAs that experienced population declines over the period were Chatham-Kent, Kawartha Lakes, Brockville, Owen Sound, Port Hope, and Hawkesbury.
Contact Huan Nguyen (416) 325-0816 / Sarah Hui (416) 325-0887.
Office of Economic Policy
Labour and Demographic Analysis Branch