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Statistics Canada Releases First Data from 2016 Census

February 8, 2017

Statistics Canada Releases First Batch of 2016 Census Data:

Statistics Canada has released the Population and Dwelling Counts from the 2016 Census. The release dates from the remaining data sets are listed at the bottom of this release.

The Population Count tallies 35,151,728 people who reported living in Canada on Census Day, May 10, 2016, and shows the patterns of population growth across the country.

Over the coming year—as Canadians celebrate 150 years since Confederation—the agency will unveil the full range of census data that will together paint a factual picture of the lives of Canadians and their communities.

The population count in 2016 was 10 times greater than in 1871, when the first census after Confederation recorded 3.5 million people in Canada. By 1967, when Canadians were toasting 100 years since Confederation, that number had grown to 20.0 million (1966 Census).

Over the years, Canadians have been trekking west. In 1871, most Canadians lived in the four founding provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, while Western Canada was sparsely populated. By 2016, close to one-third of the population lived in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

More highlights from the February Statistics Canada release may be found below.


Canada’s population: Migratory increase accounts for two-thirds of growth

From 2011 to 2016, the population increased by 1.7 million or 5.0%, a slightly lower rate than 5.9% from 2006 to 2011.

About two-thirds of Canada’s population growth from 2011 to 2016 was the result of migratory increase (the difference between the number of immigrants and emigrants). Natural increase (the difference between the number of births and deaths) accounted for the remaining one-third. In the coming years, population growth in Canada is projected to be increasingly linked to migratory increase rather than natural increase, mainly because of low fertility and an aging population.

International comparisons: Canada has the highest population growth among G7 countries

Canada led the G7 in population growth from 2011 to 2016, rising on average 1.0% per year, a ranking also recorded over the two previous intercensal periods (2001 to 2006 and 2006 to 2011).

As in Canada, migratory increase is the key driver of population growth in other G7 countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. In addition, three G7 countries—Germany, Italy and Japan—have recorded more deaths than births in recent years, meaning that the population growth in these countries depended entirely on migratory increase.

Canada’s average annual population growth rate of 1.0% from 2011 to 2016 was the eighth highest among G20 countries, behind Saudi Arabia, Turkey, South Africa, Australia, Mexico, Indonesia and India.

Population density: Two-thirds of Canadians live close to the southern border

Canada has a small population living in a large land area (close to 9 million square kilometres), leading to a low population density compared with other countries. For example, Canada had 3.9 people per square kilometre in 2016, compared with 35.3 people per square kilometre in the United States.

The Canadian population, however, is highly concentrated geographically. In 2016, two out of three people (66%) lived within 100 kilometres of the southern Canada–United States border, an area that represents about 4% of Canada’s territory.

Many census metropolitan areas (CMAs) are located near the border, including Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver. The population density of some municipalities located in these CMAs is well above the national average. The municipality of Vancouver had the highest population density in Canada, with more than 5,400 people per square kilometre. Among municipalities of 5,000 or more inhabitants, the next three with the highest population density were located in the Montréal CMA—Westmount, Côte-Saint-Luc and Montréal.

Canada 150: From Confederation to the 2016 Census

Canada’s population has increased tenfold since Confederation. However, the country’s population growth has not been constant over those 150 years.

In the three decades that followed Confederation, the number of people in Canada grew rapidly, entirely as a result of natural increase. At that period and despite large waves of immigration, the country recorded migratory losses because many people departed for the United States.

This pattern changed at the turn of the 20th century. From 1901 to 1911, the Canadian population grew 3.0% on average each year, a rate that remains the fastest in the country’s history. The robust population growth was attributable to both strong natural increase and strong migratory increase. During this decade, more than 1.6 million immigrants came to Canada, with many settling in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

Population growth slowed again in the 1930s, as couples had fewer children and immigration levels fell. These decreases were partly attributable to the Great Depression.

After the Second World War, however, immigration levels rose again, and fertility rates increased considerably, leading to the baby boom. As a result, Canada’s population growth rate in the 1950s was close to the records set at the beginning of the century.

By the time the country celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1967, 20.0 million people called Canada home.

Since the mid-1960s, the fertility rate of women has gradually decreased. With Canadian families having fewer children, migratory increase became the key driver of population growth at the end of the 1990s.

For more information on the Canadian population over the last 150 years, see the 2016 Census videos, the infographic and thematic maps.

Release date Release topic
February 8, 2017 Population and dwelling counts
May 3, 2017 Age and sex

Type of dwelling

May 10, 2017 Census of Agriculture
August 2, 2017 Families, households and marital status


September 13, 2017 Income
October 25, 2017 Immigration and ethnocultural diversity


Aboriginal peoples

November 29, 2017 Education


Journey to work

Language of work

Mobility and migration