Northern New Brunswick sees continued exodus, census shows
Cities and rural areas, both francophone and anglophone, affected
Northern New Brunswick accounts for much of the province's decrease in population over the past five years, according to the 2016 census.
The Campbellton-Miramichi "economic region" dropped to 154,351, from 158,741 in 2011 — a -2.8 per cent change, the figures released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday show.
Edmundston managed to buck the trend, with a population of 16,580, an increase of 3.4 per cent.
Mayor Cyrille Simard said the city's economy is improving, with growth in the forestry sector as well as commercial investments.
"Hopefully it all adds up to better conditions for families," he said in an email to CBC News. "That's encouraging."
The city of Campbellton took one of the biggest hits, losing 502 people, coming in at 6,883, compared with 7,385 in 2011, a 6.8 per cent decrease.
Dalhousie saw fewer people leave than Campbellton, at 386, but experienced one of the biggest percentage drops. The town's population was cut to 3,126, a decrease of 11 per cent.
Cities and towns weren't the only census subdivisions affected. Rural areas, such as Charlo, also saw a decline. The village lost 14 people, down to 1,310, a 1.1 per cent drop.
Anglophone and francophone regions both experienced reductions, the data shows.
Julien Bérard-Chagnon, a senior analyst in demography with Statistics Canada, says a detailed report will be released in November documenting where people who leave smaller communities go when they move.
But he says it is already known from income tax returns that many people in rural New Brunswick communities have relocated to larger centres in the province.
"We know that one of the reasons why Moncton and Fredericton are growing is that they are attracting people from the rest of New Brunswick," said Bérard-Chagnon.
New Brunswick is the only province in Canada to see a decrease in population.
Its population dropped to 747,101, a decline of 0.5 per cent since 2011.