British Columbia

B.C.'s population passes 5 million, thanks to high international migration numbers

The population of British Columbia has passed the five million mark for the first time, according to a Statistics Canada estimation.

Canada's population sees largest increase since 1971, according to Statistics Canada.

"Compared to other provinces, B.C.'s economy is actually doing well," says licensed immigration consultant Alex Khadempour. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News)

The population of British Columbia has passed the five million mark for the first time, according to a Statistics Canada estimation

The report says international migration is to thank for the spike — as it is in every province that saw a population increase.  

Canada's population was approximately 37.2 million on Oct. 1, up 184,000 from July 1. This was the largest population increase in number since 1971.

"I don't find it surprising at all," licensed immigration consultant Alex Khadempour of CICS Immigration Consulting told CBC.

Statistics Canada reported strong immigration levels, an increase in refugee claimants and the arrival of a large number of non-permanent residents, many of whom are work and study permit holders.

Khadempour said he believes B.C.'s population increase is partly due to a trend among young international students. Many people who move to provinces like Ontario as foreign students move to B.C. after they graduate, he said.

"Compared to other provinces, B.C.'s economy is actually doing well.... There are more jobs and the provincial [permanent residency] program is a little easier to navigate than other provinces'," said Khadempour. 

Khadempour said there are more than 450,000 foreign students in Canada. He said it's common for foreign students to enter the B.C. hospitality and sales industry and gain sponsorship from their employers.

"That opens up opportunities for them to apply for permanent residency," Khadempour said.

Filling in the population

Carlos Teixeira, an associate professor of geography at UBC's Okanagan campus who specializes in demographics, race and urban planning, said international migrants with small families have helped Canada's population tremendously as well. 

"This growth is due to immigrants, and more recently refugees, because the total fertility rates in Canada are not very high," Teixeira told CBC.

He said the Canadian population is aging, a fact confirmed by the Statistics Canada report.

"We don't have a balanced pyramid of ages in this country.… One way to compensate for that is opening the doors for immigrants to come from all over the world," said Teixeira.