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Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

September 17, 2019

Statistics Canada has updated its population projections for Canada (to 2068) and the Provinces and Territories (to 2043). Projections include several scenarios based on both short and long term component trends, providing a variety of potential outcomes. The population projections are not forecasts, but represent an attempt to establish plausible long-term scenarios based on fertility, mortality and migration. A table of each scenario assumption and links to the full methodology are at the end of the article.

The low-growth scenario is based on having lower assumptions for all components (fertility, life expectancy and immigration)than the medium- and high-growth scenarios. The five medium growth scenarios are based on the same fertility, life expectancy, and immigration assumptions as one another but differ on the interprovincial migration assumptions across five scenarios (M1-M5). The interprovincial migration assumption for the medium-growth scenarios is that the projected period will be the same as the average over some historical period. For instance, M1 uses the longest time-period (1991/1992 to 2016/17) while M5 uses a short but more recent time period (2014/2015 to 2016/2017) to calculate the average net interprovincial migration component. The differences between the medium-growth scenario highlight the variation in the population that could result from differing trends in interprovincial migration. The slow-aging scenario assumes the high-growth assumptions on fertility and immigration but a slower increase in life expectancy. The fast-aging scenario assumes the low-growth assumptions on fertility and immigration but greater gains in life expectancy. Historical and projected populations are presented for July 1 of each year.

Nova Scotia's population was 959,942 on July 1, 2018 having grown by 3.9 per cent over the past 25 years. Statistics Canada's population projections for the next 25 years range from a decline of -4.5 per cent under the low-growth scenario to growth of 12.4 per cent under the high growth scenario. The low-growth scenario has Nova Scotia's population declining to 916,900 persons while the high growth scenario results in a population of 1,078,900 in 2043. The medium growth scenarios range from 960,700 (M3, interprovincial migration trend 2003/04 to 2008/09) up to 1,019,200 (M5, interprovincial migration trend 2014/15 to 2016/17).




The age structure of Nova Scotia's population has some common trends across all the scenarios. Under all scenarios the number of persons aged 65 and over will increase by 2043; the size of increases ranges from 37.3 per cent (low-growth) to 54.1 per cent (high-growth). Under every scenario, the number of persons aged 65 and over will peak during the 25 year projection period and being to decline, although for some scenarios only in the 2040s. Each scenario has the population aged 18 to 64 years old shrinking by 2043. All scenarios have the population aged 18 to 64 declining over first 10 years, but the high growth, slow-aging, and M5 scenarios project this age group to stabilize or grow after an initial period of decline. The youth population (aged 0-17) declines in all scenarios except high-growth (+14.3%) and slow-aging (+13.6%).


Nova Scotia’s population is projected to be older under all scenarios with a larger share of the population aged 65 and over. In 2018, 20.4 per cent of the population was aged 65 and over. Statistics Canada population projections have this share increasing to a range of 26.1 per cent (slow-aging ) to 31.3 per cent (fast-aging) in 2043. The share aged 18 to 64 is projected to decline from current 62.4 percent to be in a range of 54.5 to 56.0 per cent in 2043 under all scenarios. The youth population (aged 0-17) share is currently 17.2 per cent and is projected to decline in the low-growth, fast-aging and medium-growth scenarios but rise slightly under the high-growth (17.5%) and slow-aging (18.0%). Under all scenarios the dependency ratio (youth and senior population as a share of population aged 18-64) will rise from the current 0.60 to be over 0.80 in all scenarios except low-growth (0.78) and slow-aging (0.79).


All scenarios have more deaths than births, resulting in a negative natural population change in all years of the projections. Net international migration projections vary from high-growth scenario that is above current levels, medium growth scenario that are mostly around current levels, and low-growth scenario in which immigration is closer to historical levels. Interprovincial migration are projected based on different historical time periods for the five medium scenarios with all other assumptions kept constant.  Nova Scotia's highest medium-growth scenario being M5 when interprovincial migration is based on 2014/15 to 2016/17 and is only scenario with positive net interprovincial migration. Nova Scotia's lowest scenario for interprovincial migration is M3 when the trend is based on interprovincial migration from 2003/2004 to 2008/2009.


Canada's population is projected to increase from 37.1 million in 2018 to between 44.4 million (low growth) to 55.1 million (high growth) in 2068. According to all scenarios, Canada's population would continue to become older in the coming years at both the national and the provincial and territorial levels. 


According to all projection scenarios , Ontario would remain the most populous province and the rate of population growth in Alberta would be the highest among Canadian provinces over the next 25 years. Alberta's population could surpass that of British Columbia by 2043 according to almost all scenarios. The rate of population growth in Quebec would remain lower than that of Canada in most scenarios. Atlantic provinces are projected to represent either a stable or a decreasing share of the Canadian population by 2043.

 Under all scenarios, Nova Scotia's population will decline as a proportion of Canada's. Nova Scotia accounts for 2.59 per cent of Canada's population in 2018 and is projected to decline to a share below 2.20 per cent in all scenarios.


The following table presents the scenarios assumptions for Canada, additional distributional assumptions and estimates are needed to produce projections at the provincial level. For instance, immigration rates at provincial level are modelled as the beginning of the projection as near current levels and then returning to a 10 year average after a period of time. For the full methodological document, see  Population Projections for Canada (2018 to 2068), Provinces and Territories (2018 to 2043): Technical Report on Methodology and Assumptions.




Statistics Canada.  Table  17-10-0057-01   Projected population, by projection scenario, age and sex, as of July 1 (x 1,000)

Statistics Canada.  Table  17-10-0058-01   Components of projected population growth, by projection scenario (x 1,000)

Statistics Canada.  Table  17-10-0005-01   Population estimates on July 1st, by age and sex

Statistics Canada.  Table  17-10-0008-01   Estimates of the components of demographic growth, annual


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