Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada
Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

2006 Census: Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006, by Age and Sex: Subprovincial population dynamics

Census metropolitan areas, though younger, are aging too

More than two-thirds of Canadians live in the country's 33 census metropolitan areas. The population of all CMAs combined grew at a faster pace than the national average between 2001 and 2006 (see Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006: Subprovincial population dynamics: Vast majority of Canada's population growth is concentrated in large metropolitan areas). At the level of individual CMAs, however, there was considerable variation in growth rates, from +19.2% for Barrie, Ontario, to -2.1% for Saguenay, Quebec.

A census metropolitan area (CMA) is a region that has a population of at least 100,000, including an urban core of at least 50,000. Canada has 33 CMAs today, up from 27 in 2001. The six new CMAs are Barrie, Guelph, Brantford and Peterborough, Ontario; Moncton, New Brunswick; and Kelowna, British Columbia.

Reference map: Census metropolitan areas and mid-size urban centres, 2006

Young woman, member of an ethno-cultural community.

No matter whether a CMA's population growth was positive or negative, its population continued to age during the five years that preceded the 2006 Census. The proportion of people aged 65 and over in all CMAs combined rose from 12.6% in 2001 to 13.3% in 2006. At the same time, the proportion of people under 15 years declined to 17.5% in 2006 from 18.8% five years earlier.

While the CMAs as a whole were aging, their population contained just 13.3% of persons who were seniors. CMAs had younger age profile than did small urban centres and rural areas, where the proportion of elderly people was 15.5%.

Nine of the 16 youngest census metropolitan areas are in southern Ontario

According to the results of the census held on May 16, 2006, 16 census metropolitan areas had a proportion of children under 15 years that was above the national average of 17.7%.

Nine of them were in the heavily industrialized southern Ontario region: Barrie (20.8%), Oshawa (20.5%), Kitchener (19.1%), Windsor (19.0%), Brantford (18.7%), Guelph (18.6%), Toronto (18.6%), Hamilton (17.9%) and London (17.7%). Most of those urban centres also enjoyed a faster rate of population growth than Canada as a whole between 2001 and 2006.

That is particularly true of Barrie, which was not only the youngest CMA but also the CMA with the highest population growth rate in the 2001 to 2006 period. Among the factors responsible for this situation are Barrie's high fertility rate and the large influx of internal and international immigrants of child-bearing age.

The five census metropolitan areas in the Prairies (Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton) also had a higher proportion of children than the national average. As noted earlier, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are the provinces with the youngest populations. The 2006 Census shows that this characteristic is evident in both the rural parts of the Prairie region and its main metropolitan areas.

Figure 22 Proportion of the population aged less than 15 years in the census metropolitan areas in 2001 and 2006

The other two CMAs in which the proportion of children was above the national average, Abbotsford and Ottawa - Gatineau, both enjoyed more rapid population growth than Canada as a whole in the five years leading up to the 2006 Census. Also of note is the fact that the average number of children per woman in Abbotsford was higher than in most other large urban centres in Canada.

In contrast, Victoria and Trois-Rivières, which in the past were the CMAs with the oldest populations, were the only two CMAs in which people under 15 years made up less than 15% of the population.

Kelowna is the oldest CMA

According to the most recent census, there were proportionally more people aged 65 and over in 2006 than in 2001 in every census metropolitan area in the country. The magnitude of the senior population differed by CMA, as the percentage of seniors ranged from single digits at one extreme to double digits at the other.

With 19.0% of its population, or nearly one person in five, aged 65 and older, Kelowna (British Columbia) was the oldest CMA in Canada in 2006. Second on the list was Peterborough (Ontario), 18.2% of whose residents were 65 years and over. Both CMAs have age structures that bear the marks of recurring losses of young adults through migration, as people between the ages of 20 and 44 are substantially underrepresented.

Figure 23 Proportion of the population aged 65 years and over in census metropolitan areas in 2001 and 2006

Victoria (British Columbia) with 17.8% of seniors, St. Catharines - Niagara (Ontario) with 17.7% of seniors, and Trois-Rivières (Quebec) with 17.0% of seniors, ranked third, fourth and fifth respectively and continued to have the oldest populations in the country. In fact, Victoria had a higher proportion of very elderly people (aged 80 and over), at 6.4%, than any other CMA. The national average was 3.7%.

At the other end of the spectrum, Calgary was the only census metropolitan area where fewer than one person in 10 was 65 years and older (9.4%). The CMA with the next lowest proportion was Alberta's other CMA, Edmonton, with 11.1%. Over the last 10 years, Calgary and Edmonton have enjoyed an economic boom that has brought them substantial gains through the migration of workers from other parts of Canada. The result is an age structure with a high proportion of people between the ages of 20 and 44. It also contributes to a higher birth rate since women of child-bearing age are overrepresented. Thus, internal migration has probably helped to dampen the growth of the proportion that represents the elderly population in Alberta's two major urban centres.

Oshawa and Barrie also had a low proportion of seniors, at 11.2% and 11.5% respectively. It is interesting to note that along with Calgary and Edmonton, Barrie and Oshawa had the highest rates of population growth among Canadian CMAs.

Figure 24 Age pyramid of the population in Kelowna (B.C.) and Calgary (Alta.) CMAs in 2006

Age and sex population comparisons, Canada, provinces and perritories, CMAs and CAs with provincial parts (Note)

previous gif  Previous page | Table of contents | Next page  next gif