New Brunswick

New Brunswick sets 3 populations records in first 3 months of 2016

An influx of Syrian refugees helped New Brunswick set what was likely a 70-year immigration record last winter, one of an unprecedented three separate population firsts experienced by the province during the first three months of 2016.

Arrival of almost 2,000 immigrants pushes provincial population upward by 1,133

At least 60 per cent of the almost 2,000 immigrants who arrived in New Brunswick in the first three months of 2016 were Syrian refugees. (CBC)

An influx of Syrian refugees helped New Brunswick set what was likely a 70-year immigration record last winter, one of an unprecedented three separate population firsts experienced by the province during the first three months of 2016.

Overall, New Brunswick grew by 1,133 people during the first quarter of the year, the single largest gain in six years. 

The growth was entirely the result of a modern high 1,994 immigrants, who came to the province between January and March, at least 60 per cent of those Syrian refugees.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of international immigrants arriving in New Brunswick last winter was double anything the province has experienced since comprehensive record keeping began in 1971.

But it also widely beat any of the less reliable quarterly immigration counts which date back to 1946.

Patrick Charbonneau, agency population analyst, said although New Brunswick continues to face serious demographic problems, the rush of immigration this year has so far overwhelmed all other issues.

"New Brunswick had the highest proportion of Syrian refugees [in Canada] and the gain outnumbered the losses that occurred,"  said Charbonneau.

New Brunswick has welcomed the most Syrian refugees per capita in Canada. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Since Syrian refugees began arriving late last year New Brunswick has settled the largest number per capita in Canada, close to double the national average.

Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John alone have taken in more than 400 refugees each.

But those stunning immigration numbers also hid two other major depopulation developments last winter, involving the filling up of the province's funeral parlours and the emptying out of its maternity wards.

According to Statistics Canada, the province set a modern record both for the most number of deaths in a three-month period (1,953) and the least number of births (1,563). Both counts also extend back to 1946.

New Brunswick first recorded more deaths than births during the first quarter of 2011 when the gap was nine. 

This year the gap was 390.

About the Author

Robert Jones

Reporter

Robert Jones has been a reporter and producer with CBC New Brunswick since 1990. His investigative reports on petroleum pricing in New Brunswick won several regional and national awards and led to the adoption of price regulation in 2006.