Why P.E.I.'s population is growing so quickly

A report released by Statistics Canada last week shows that over the last two years P.E.I. has been the fastest growing province in the country.

July 1 population was 153,244

Immigration is P.E.I.'s biggest population driver. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

A report released by Statistics Canada last week shows that over the last two years P.E.I. has been the fastest growing province in the country.

The population of P.E.I. on July 1 was 153,244.

The report shows that the Island's population grew 4.27 per cent from July of 2016 to July 2018. The next fastest growing province was Ontario, at 3.22 per cent over those two years.

Ontario just edged out P.E.I. as the fastest growing over the last year with 1.79 per cent growth, compared to 1.78 per cent on P.E.I.

This particular report is special, because it is the first set of population estimates that incorporate the results of the 2016 census.

The incorporated results show a smaller population than previous estimates, and indicates the province hit its 150,000 population target in 2017 as planned, and not in late 2016 as previous estimates suggested.

It wasn't more babies

Since 2010 natural increase, measured by births and deaths, has been relatively static.

The numbers bounce around from year to year, but annual births stay pretty close to the average of 1,399 per year.

The number of deaths varies more widely, but in the final analysis the net gain of 1,441 is just 23 per cent of the overall population increase.

More Canadians are moving to the Island

In 2010-11, 2,494 people moved to P.E.I. from other provinces. By 2017-18 that had increased to 3,495.

The number of people moving from the Island to other provinces is also increasing, reaching almost 4,000 in 2017-18.

But the net loss/gain has been moving in the Island's favour in the last few years. Two of the last three years actually showed net gains. Even the net loss of 446 in 2017-18 was lower than any of the net losses from 2011-15.

Immigration resurgence

In the last three years, net international migration has risen to the highest levels since 2010.

Not many Islanders emigrate, fewer than 150 a year, so the largest component of net international migration is immigrants.

In 2010-11 net international migration was 2,719. From 2011-15 it peaked at 1,581, but in each of the last three years it has been more than 2,500.

There are some signs that population growth could slow down.

Net immigration is down 200 in the first half of 2018 as compared to the first half of 2017. Last year also showed a peak in the number of people leaving the Island for other parts of Canada.

The province has set a population target of 160,000 by 2022. Even at the reduced 2017-18 growth rate of 1.78 per cent, it will hit that goal in 2021.

More P.E.I. news


  • This story has been updated with annual numbers from Statistics Canada. A previous version of this story used aggregated quarterly numbers.
    Oct 04, 2018 1:42 PM AT

About the Author

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


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