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Eight things we learned from the new 2016 census population numbers

Eight things we learned from the new 2016 census population numbers
(Image: Jonybreaker/Flickr)

The 2016 census population numbers are out, meaning, for the first time in five years, we have an accurate count of the number of people living in Canada. Statisticians will spend the coming months slicing and dicing the new data, but all we really want to know, for now, is what all of it means for Toronto. Here are eight immediate takeaways:

We’re bigger than we were before. The Toronto metropolitan area’s population is now 5,928,040, up from 5,583,064 in 2011. The city of Toronto itself is now at 2,731,571, up from 2,615,060.

Chicago is creeping up on us. Toronto is still the fourth largest city in North America, but not by much. The latest numbers give us a 11,025 person lead over Chicago’s 2,720,546 inhabitants. In 2012, Toronto’s population exceeded Chicago’s by 84,020.

The burbs are growing, too. Among Toronto’s suburbs, Milton is growing the fastest. The population there spiked by 30.5 per cent between 2011 and 2016, giving it a total head count of 110,128, up from 84,362. Some of this growth can likely be attributed to the Places to Grow Act, a piece of provincial legislation that uses a number of different policy measures to drive growth outside the city centre. Other locales aren’t growing as quickly, though. Oshawa, another community that is supposed to be helped by the Act, has grown by only 6.6 per cent since the last census. Brampton grew by 13.3 per cent, Caledon by 11.8 per cent, and Markham by 9 per cent.

But not all burbs are created equal. The laggards are Pickering, where the population grew by 3.4 per cent, Uxbridge, which grew by 2.7 per cent, and Mississauga, which grew by 1.1 per cent.

We’re far from the fastest-growing city in Canada. Toronto’s metropolitan area had the 12th-highest population growth of a metropolitan area in Canada, at 6.2 per cent. Calgary was first, at 14.6 per cent, followed by Edmonton, at 13.9 per cent. Saint John was the only city where the number of inhabitants actually shrunk (by 2.2 per cent).

We’re still growing faster than most other places. The Toronto metropolitan area’s growth outpaced Canada’s average (5 per cent) and Ontario’s (4.6 per cent).

No other Canadian cities are close to usurping the throne. Toronto retained its place as the largest city in the country. The next two spots still belong to Montreal and Vancouver, but Calgary beat out Ottawa-Gatineau to take the fourth-place position.

Immigrants are a force to be reckoned with. Two thirds of Canada’s overall population growth was a result of immigration. Only one third came from new births.

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