Census 2001 Highlights: Factsheet 1: Population Growth in Ontario's CMAs and the GTA

Growth in Census Metropolitan Areas Varies

  • The 2001 Census found that 8.4 million people or 74% of Ontarians live in census metropolitan areas (CMAs), up slightly from 73% in the 1996 Census.

  • The population in 5 of Ontario's 10 CMAs increased at a faster rate than the provincial average growth rate of 6.1%. Two CMAs in the North posted population declines between the 1996 and 2001 Census.

  • Oshawa CMA had the strongest growth. The second strongest growth occurred in the Toronto CMA*, the largest urban centre in Ontario and Canada. Toronto CMA's population increased 9.8% to reach 4.7 million. It accounted for 41% of Ontario's population in 2001, up from 39.6% in 1996. Toronto CMA's share of Canada's population was 15.6% in 2001, up from 14.8% in 1996.

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) *

  • The 2001 Census counted a population of 5.1 million in the GTA, an increase of 452,940 or 9.8% from 1996. The GTA accounted for 44.5% of Ontario's population in 2001, up from 43% in 1996.

  • The main factor behind the population growth in the GTA was immigration to the Toronto Census Division. Between the 1996 and 2001 Census, Toronto received 69% and 53% of immigrants to the GTA and Ontario, respectively.

  • Despite strong immigration, Toronto grew more slowly (4%) than the surrounding GTA regions (15.9%). This was because, over the period, Toronto lost a significant number of people to other Ontario regions, including to the rest of the GTA, through intra-provincial migration.

  • As a result, Toronto's share of the GTA's population dropped to 48.8% in 2001 from 51.5% in 1996.

  • Ontario's fastest growing municipalities with populations of 100,000+ were all in the GTA: Vaughan (37%), Richmond Hill (30%), Brampton (21%) and Markham (20%).

  • Outside of the GTA, only Barrie recorded a comparable growth of 31%, its population rising to 103,710 in 2001.

* The GTA is an administrative area of the province while the Toronto CMA is defined by Statistics Canada. The GTA consists of the Census Divisions of Toronto, Peel, York, Durham and Halton. The Toronto CMA includes all of Toronto, Peel and York Census Divisions but only parts of Durham and Halton.

Census population growth rate, Ontario CMA's, 1996-2001

Census population growth rate for GTA census divisions, 1996-2001
February 5, 2003

Office of Economic Policy
Labour and Demographic Analysis Branch

Page: 1271  |