How the pandemic has affected P.E.I.'s population growth

P.E.I. continued to be a leader among the provinces in population growth during the pandemic, but not at the pace it was previously.

Immigration biggest factor in slowed growth

International arrivals were down at Charlottetown Airport. (CBC)

P.E.I. continued to be a leader among the provinces in population growth during the pandemic, but not at the pace it was previously.

P.E.I. has been a perennial leader in growth for the last few years. In 2018 and 2019, with national growth running about 1.5 per cent, P.E.I. grew 2.5 per cent in 2018 and 2.2 per cent in 2019. No other province grew at more than a 1.8 per cent growth rate in either year.

But the pandemic slowed growth across the country.

The population of Canada grew just 0.4 per cent in 2020. Alberta was slightly ahead of P.E.I., but in round figures both had a growth of 0.8 per cent.

The Island's population had been growing at a pace of more than 3,300 people a year, but it added just under 1,200 in 2020.

Immigration was a big factor in the slowing population growth.

With Canada's borders closed to many, immigration fell off across the country.

P.E.I. had been attracting an average of well over 2,000 immigrants annually from 2017 to 2019, but welcomed fewer than 1,300 in 2020.

While there are stories circulating about Canadians clamouring to move to P.E.I., Statistics Canada numbers show a different story.

The Island lost residents to other provinces in the last nine months of 2020. In total, counting both those that arrived and those that left, the province lost 391 residents.

Over the course of the year, the province had a net loss of 157 to interprovincial migration, which was about the same as 2019. In the previous two years it averaged a net gain of about 400.

Statistics Canada does not show any excess deaths on P.E.I. during the pandemic.

With just nine months of population data recorded so far, it is too early to say if the pandemic is having an impact on the birth rate.

More from CBC P.E.I.


Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at


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