Nova Scotia's population is the highest it's ever been thanks to a growth spurt of 1,460 in the first three months of 2016, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

The Quarterly Demographic Estimates report says the province's population as of April 1, 2016 was 947,284. That is up 4,918 people from April 1, 2015.

The report says the population increase of 1,460 from Jan. 1 to April 1 was the largest first quarter growth since 1985.

Nova Scotia population

Nova Scotia's population is up 4,918 people from April 1, 2015 to April 1, 2016. (Government of Nova Scotia)

Citing immigration as the main reason for the increase, the report says 1,849 immigrants arrived in the province during the first quarter of 2016, many of them Syrian refugees. It was the largest number on record for a single quarter.

If not for immigration, the province's population would continue to shrink. The report says Nova Scotia's natural population change — the number of births less the number of deaths — continues to decline.

Between Jan. 1 and April 1 there were 2,005 births and 2,543 deaths.

Inter-provincial migration also dragged down the population but not as much as it has in the past, with the report saying 33 people left Nova Scotia for other provinces. It was the lowest first quarter outflow numbers since 2011.

The report notes while outmigration to Alberta slowed down, more Nova Scotians were leaving for Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and British Columbia.

One of the recommendations of the Ivany report was that the number of people admitted to Nova Scotia annually should be tripled.