About a year ago I wrote an article on how Ontario’s population grows, with a particular focus on its components of growth. I wanted to expand on that article by providing data on components of growth for Toronto and the Toronto CMA, to see how they compare to the rest of Ontario. There are fantastic datasets on the City of Toronto’s Data Stats page that summarize the components of population growth for the City of Toronto, the Toronto CMA and the Province of Ontario since 2001. I decided to make a quick few charts using the data.
The first chart shows the total annual net population growth in Ontario, the City of Toronto, the Toronto CMA (outside of the City), and Ontario (outside of the Toronto CMA)
Ontario since 2001 grew on average by about 150,000 per year, with the vast majority of growth taking place in the Toronto CMA. What I found particularly interesting is how the net population growth of the City of Toronto has been slowly increasing throughout the years, while the net growth in the Toronto CMA (outside of the City) has been in decline. So what we see is a bit of an urbanizing effect taking place in the Toronto CMA. As for the rest of Ontario (outside of the Toronto CMA), we are witnessing a jump in net population growth in the last few years.
Now let’s take a quick look at the four key components of population growth for Ontario and the Toronto CMA. First up is Natural Increase, which is simply Deaths minus Births.
Steady as can be over the last 17 years, with a slight drop in annual natural population growth in Ontario over the last few years. And that drop has occurred in the rest of Ontario, outside of the Toronto CMA. So in other words – annual natural increase has generally been the same in the City of Toronto and the rest of the CMA over the past 17 years; while in the rest of Ontario (outside of Toronto CMA), we see that difference shrinking, with deaths significantly outpacing births over the years. In fact, you are seeing the same trend (i.e., of deaths outpacing births) across all the geographies in the chart above.
The next chart shows international migration.
Ontario welcomes about 110,000 international migrants on average per year, with the vast majority heading to the Toronto CMA. The most interesting finding from unpacking this data further is that the number of immigrants arriving in Ontario over the years has been declining, while the number of net non-permanent residents has skyrocketed lately – which is accounting for a large portion of annual migrant growth in the last few years.
The following chart shows inter-provincial migration (i.e., people migrating between provinces in the country).
What I take away from the chart above is that there was an exodus of people leaving Ontario to other provinces (namely Alberta) during the 2000s, with a reversal taking place during the last few years, largely attributed to oil prices and their impact on the Alberta economy. What I found especially interesting was how the City of Toronto saw very little out-migration over the years into other provinces.
Finally, the last chart shows intra-provincial migration (i.e., people migrating between municipalities within Ontario).
Toronto always lost a lot of people to elsewhere in Ontario, but that has rapidly declined to reach surprising stability in the last decade. Whereas Toronto experienced fewer people over the years leaving for other municipalities, the exact opposite has been taking place in the rest of the CMA, with declines in the last 3 years. And these declines result in greater annual growth in the rest of Ontario – even though the province has always enjoyed a steady flow of intra-provincial migrants.
What could be resulting in a growing share of intra-provincial migration in Ontario outside of the Toronto CMA? High house prices is often considered a big culprit nowadays. But I also like to think that seniors generally prefer to retire somewhere outside of the City.
Some key conclusions:
- Immigration runs the show in Ontario when it comes to population growth; with non-permanent residents accounting for much international migrant growth lately
- We are seeing a bit of an urbanizing/centralizing population effect taking place recently, with more growth in the City and less in the rest of the CMA
- Plenty of babies are being had across all of Ontario, but # of deaths rapidly outpacing # of births outside of the City of Toronto. This could be because seniors may chose to retire outside of the City.
- When people leave Toronto, they often leave to go somewhere nearby in the region. Very few people leave the province or country when they leave Toronto. Shows you the sticking power of the City + region.
- And in the last few years, fewer people have been leaving Toronto to go somewhere else in the region, while more people are moving from the rest of the Toronto CMA to other parts of the province, including the City
Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM Tables 051-0063 and 051-0064