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Census shows Halifax is growing while the rest of the province is shrinking

Nova Scotia has the second lowest population growth rate of all the provinces

3 min read
caption Construction site of the The Keep condominiums on Quinpool Road in Halifax.
Geordie Summers-Lubar
caption Construction site of the The Keep condominiums on Quinpool Road in Halifax.
Geordie Summers-Lubar

The first data to be released from the 2016 census shows that the population of Halifax is growing, while the rest of Nova Scotia is shrinking.

The Halifax metropolitan area grew to 403,390 people in 2016, up from 390,328 people in 2011. This is an increase of 3.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, the population in other areas of the province has gone down. New Glasgow’s population decreased by 3.7 per cent, Cape Breton’s decreased by 2.9 per cent, Kentville’s decreased by 0.5 per cent and Truro’s decreased by 0.3 per cent.

The cause of these changes “could be any number of factors,” says Fred Bergman, a senior policy analyst at the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council. Bergman says aging, unemployment rates and migration could all have an impact. Until more details from the census is released, it will be hard to pinpoint specific causes for these population trends.

Some of Halifax’s growth could be due to urbanization.

“People (are) moving from rural regions into the larger urban centres,” says Bergman. In 2011, 43.9 per cent of Nova Scotia’s population lived in rural areas. Now, that number has gone down to 42.6 per cent.

Over the following year, Statistics Canada will release more data from the census. There will be data on age, sex, labour, education, immigration, ethnocultural diversity and more. As this information is released, more context will be given to population trends in Nova Scotia and the rest of the country.

Nationally, Canada’s population grew five per cent from 2011 to a total of 35,151,728 people. This is 10 times amount that was recorded during Canada’s first census in 1871. Provincially, Alberta saw the highest growth rate, with a rate of 11.6 per cent. New Brunswick was the only province that lost population with a -0.5 per cent growth rate. Nova Scotia’s population is up to 923,598 people, which is a 0.2 per cent increase from 2011.

Internationally, the census reveals that Canada has the highest population growth rate among G7 countries with a rate one per cent. The closest G7 country to Canada is the United States with a growth rate of 0.8 per cent.

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