The first two 2006 Census releases revealed significant differences in population growth and age structure between Canada's metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. Metropolitan areas, with faster-growing and on average, younger populations than non-metropolitan areas, also have a higher rate of growth in the number of households with couples and children.
In fact, the number of households comprised of couples with children increased only in metropolitan areas between 2001 and 2006 (+2.4%), as it declined 7.6% in non-metropolitan areas. However, there was a great deal of variation between metropolitan areas across the country.
Canada. Percentage change in the number of private households containing couples with children under age 25 at home, 2001 to 2006 by Census Division (CD)
For example, nine of the 18 CMAs with the highest rates of growth in households with couples and children were in southern Ontario, a region that also experienced rapid population growth between 2001 and 2006 (See Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006: Subprovincial population dynamics). The proportion of children under age 15 was also above the national average in those nine CMAs (Barrie, Oshawa, Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener, Windsor, London, Hamilton and Brantford) in 2006.
This is probably attributable in part to the fact that some of the CMAs experienced substantial migration gains of adults of childbearing age. The large proportion of immigrants settling in Toronto may explain the situation in that CMA, as many immigrants have children following their arrival in Canada. The Montréal and Vancouver CMAs, which like Toronto attract large numbers of immigrants, also had a higher rate of growth in households with couples and children than the national average between 2001 and 2006.
Figure 18 The proportion of households with couples and children generally growing most rapidly in fast growing census metropolitan areas, 2001 to 2006
In contrast, 14 CMAs experienced a decline in households with couples and children between 2001 and 2006. That was the case for four of Quebec's five CMAs, the exception being Montréal; the three CMAs in Manitoba and Saskatchewan; and three of the four CMAs in the Atlantic Provinces, the exception being Moncton. The Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan all had growth rates of their population in private households that were below the national average; in some cases, the rate was negative. In addition, there is little immigration to those CMAs.