Sask. ranks 9th out of 10 provinces in population growth over last 5 years: StatsCan

Statistics Canada census data released Wednesday shows Saskatchewan ranked ninth among the 10 provinces for population growth over the past five years, with a growth rate of 3.1 per cent from 2016 to 2021.

More people left province than relocated to Sask. from other provinces between 2016 and 2021

A drone shot of Saskatoon in the early fall 2021. From 2016 to 2021, the city's metropolitan area population grew by 7.6 per cent, to 317,480, making it the19th biggest city in Canada, according to Statistics Canada's latest census data. The province's population overall grew by 3.1 per cent. (Cory Herperger/CBC/Radio-Canada)

While Canada's population has continued to grow at the fastest rate of any G7 country over the past few years, Saskatchewan's growth rate was low compared to other provinces, according to Statistics Canada census data released Wednesday.

The new census numbers cover Canada's population growth between 2016 and 2021. 

Saskatchewan ranked ninth among the 10 provinces for population growth, with a growth rate of 3.1 per cent from 2016 to 2021. 

The population stood at 1,132,505 at the end of 2021.

Only Newfoundland and Labrador had slower growth rate among the provinces (-1.8 per cent).

Saskatchewan's 3.1 per cent growth was the second-lowest among the 10 provinces. (Statistics Canada)

In fact, for the first time since the 1940s, the Maritimes grew faster (4.7 per cent) than the Prairie provinces (4.6 per cent), according to Statistics Canada. Growth in the Maritimes was spurred by rising immigration levels and an influx of Canadians migrating from other parts of the country, the agency says.

The pandemic years have been especially hard on Saskatchewan, which saw no growth in 2020.

Although Saskatchewan saw a net increase in its population between 2016 and 2021, more people moved out of the province than came in from other parts of Canada during that period.

International immigration was the main driver of population growth in Western Canada, as it was in Canada overall, Statistics Canada says.

However, international migration levels in Western Canada were about the same in 2016 to 2021 as in the last census period, which covered 2011 to 2015.

Saskatchewan's growth rate dropped in the 2016 to 2021 period compared to the previous five-year period. (Statistics Canada)

The Saskatoon metropolitan area population grew 7.6 per cent to 317,480, making it the 17th biggest city in Canada, according to Statistics Canada's data.

Regina's population was up 5.3 per cent over the last five years, growing to 249,217.

The population of rural Canada, however, has grown at a slower pace than in urban centres.

Estevan lost people, with its overall population down six per cent to 12,798 — a sharper drop than any other small centre in Western Canada, according to the data.

North Battleford's population also dropped, down 3.4 per cent to 19,374.

Estevan's population fell by six per cent between 2016 and 2021. (Statistics Canada)

Just over 6.6 million Canadians (6,601,982) lived in a rural area as of May 2021, the report said.

That is up 0.4 per cent from five years earlier, but below the 6.3 per cent pace of growth of urban areas.

The share of Canadians living in rural areas declined for the ninth consecutive census, falling from 18.7 per cent in 2016 to 17.8 per cent in 2021.

Overall, Canada's population grew 5.2 per cent to 36,991,981.

According to the average growth scenario of Statistics Canada's most recent population projections, the country's population could reach 55.2 million by the end of the 2060s.

With files from Peter Zimonjic