British Columbia census data: population now over 5 million
British Columbia’s population tops five million for the first time ever, perhaps in part due to the number of people coming from elsewhere in Canada.
Federal census data for 2021 puts the province’s population at 5,000,879 – a record for British Columbia. Interestingly, an estimate from provincial officials suggests the province’s population is 5,166,649. CTV News has contacted Statistics Canada for more information on the discrepancy.
According to Statistics Canada, British Columbia is the only province in Western Canada to have experienced population growth above the national average, at rates of 7.6 and 5.2%, respectively.
And British Columbia was also the only province in Western Canada to see more people coming from outside the country than leaving it. Data compiled between 2016 and 2021 suggests interprovincial migration gains of 97,424 people, the highest levels seen in British Columbia since the 1990s.
The other western provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, saw more people move than move in. Statistics Canada suggests that an “environment of lower oil prices…and higher unemployment” may be partly responsible for this, particularly in Alberta.
But the data suggests that interprovincial migration has not been the main driver of British Columbia’s population increase. As noted across Canada, immigration was the main source of the increase.
“However, levels of international migration have changed little in Western Canada since the last intercensal period, unlike most other provinces, where they increased significantly before the pandemic,” says a summary from Statistics Canada.
“This partly explains why Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta no longer lead the provinces in population growth.”
Other demographic data included in Wednesday’s news release indicates that British Columbia has a population density of 5.4 people per square kilometer and the fastest growing communities were Langford, Squamish and Lake Country.
With files from The Canadian Press