Although Canada's populationis growing and Western Canada's is growing even faster, Saskatchewan's continues to shrink, Statistics Canada says.

According to the federal agency's population report published Wednesday, Saskatchewan's population fell by 4,571 people over the year that ended July 1. The previous year, the population dropped 4,931.

It's the ninth time in 10 years that Saskatchewan's population has dropped.

Continuing the pattern of a number of years, Alberta was growing faster than any other province in Canada and had 98,181 more people on July 1 than it had a year earlier. Manitoba and B.C. were growing, too.

Saskatchewan's dismal numbers were grist for the political mill Wednesday, with the Saskatchewan Party blaming the drop on the governing NDP.

Saskatchewan Party finance critic Ken Cheveldayoff said the province should be growing at least as fast as the national average of one per cent a year. Instead, people fed up with the NDP's lack of a growth agenda are leaving, he said.