Nfld. & Labrador

Avalon growing, becoming more diverse

The latest census shows the region's population is up more than 5%.

Census offers a basic picture of population changes

The population of the Avalon Peninsula is becoming bigger and more diverse, according to the latest census. (CBC)

The latest census has confirmed what people on the Avalon Peninsula have been saying for years — the region is growing and becoming more diverse. 

Leticia Grzelak has noticed the increase firsthand.

She runs an employment agency matching workers from other countries with jobs in Newfoundland, and says her job has gotten a lot busier in the last few years.

"I'm in the business for more than five years now," said Grzelak, "I brought about one hundred overseas workers here in our province alone."

Leticia Grzelak says business is booming at her business, which matches workers from other countries with jobs in Newfoundland. (CBC)

The population of the peninsula now stands at 262, 410, which is an increase of 13, 992 people in just five years.

Meanwhile, the greater St. John's region is growing a little faster than the city itself. The number of people living in the city core increased by 5.5 per cent, while the population of outlying areas, including Mt. Pearl, CBS and Paradise, is up by 5.7 per cent.

The language section of the census offers a little information about who the newcomers are.

French is still the region's second biggest language, but Chinese languages aren't far behind.

The number of people whose first language isn't English has more than doubled, from 2,075 to 4,750. That increase alone accounts for 19 per cent of the region's population growth.

Sketchy details

But while the numbers are going up in terms of population and bilingualism, the ability to measure these changes may be going down.

Information about ethnicity, income, education and housing will be released next year, but it won't come from the census.

Instead, those questions and many more are now part of the voluntary National Household Survey.

The Conservative government made the change in 2010, despite a flurry of opposition.

NDP MP Jack Harris says the Conservative government wants to keep details about the population hazy. (CBC)

"They don't want the information in the public because it might lead to criticism of them and demands for better services," said St. John's East NDP MP Jack Harris.

He says a vital tool for crafting public policy has been taken away.

"A voluntary survey with a 65 per cent average response, as low as 12 to 15 per cent in some communities, is not going to give you the data you need to know what's going on in your community."