New Brunswick

Maritimes' population growth outpaces Prairies for first time since 1940s

The population of the Maritimes grew at a faster pace than the Prairies for the first time since the 1940s, according to Statistics Canada.

New Brunswick's population increased 3.8 per cent in the last five years

Thanks to immigrants and people moving from other parts of Canada, New Brunswick's population grew by 3.8 per cent in the last five years. (Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park)

The population of the Maritimes grew at a faster pace than the Prairies for the first time since the 1940s, according to new numbers released by Statistics Canada. 

Over the last five years, the population in the Maritimes grew 4.7 per cent, edging out the Prairie provinces, which saw 4.6 per cent growth.

New Brunswick saw a 3.8 per cent increase between 2016 and 2021 — a big improvement from a slight drop from 2011-2016. That puts New Brunswick's population at 775,610. 

Moncton outpaced all other "census metropolitan areas" in New Brunswick with a growth rate of 8.9 per cent, followed by Fredericton at 5.8 per cent, and Saint John at 3.5 per cent. In the previous five years, Saint John dropped by 2.2 per cent. 

"The impacts of the pandemic on population growth were felt from coast to coast to coast due to lower levels of permanent and temporary immigration," said Statistics Canada. 

The only province to see a drop in numbers was Newfoundland and Labrador, which fell by 1.8 per cent over the last five years.

 2011 to 20162016 to 2021
Newfoundland and Labrador1.0-1.8
Prince Edward Island1.98.0
Nova Scotia0.25.0
New Brunswick-0.53.8
British Columbia5.67.6
Northwest Territories0.8-1.7

The new numbers from Statistics Canada reveal that New Brunswick's population grew at its fastest pace since the early 1970s. Neighbouring Prince Edward Island, meanwhile, posted its highest population growth rate on record. In fact, P.E.I. led all provinces with an eight per cent increase since 2016.

Statistics Canada said there were two key factors behind the population growth in the Maritimes.

"First, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island welcomed a record number of immigrants from 2016 to 2021, the vast majority arriving prior to the pandemic. Although approximately one-third to one-half of those who immigrate to the Maritimes move to another province within five years of arrival, higher levels of immigration were still mainly responsible for the rebound in population growth since 2016."

New Brunswick's population grew 3.8 per cent in the last five years, after falling 0.5 per cent in the previous five years. (Government of Canada)

And, for the first time since the 1981 to 1986 period, "more people moved to the Maritimes from other parts of Canada (134,841) than moved away (98,086). The positive influx of people into these provinces from elsewhere in Canada started prior to the pandemic but has intensified thereafter."

The report says the change may be related to the increased ability to work from home, "combined with larger economic disruptions in other parts of Canada and the lower costs of housing in the Maritimes."

If not for immigrants and people moving from other parts of Canada, the report says, the population of all three Maritime provinces "would likely have fallen since, like Newfoundland and Labrador, they all recorded more deaths than births from 2016 to 2021."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?