Canada is a country with a constantly growing and evolving diverse population. Understanding the population demographics of Canada is important for policymakers and businesses but also individuals, for example, when considering a move to a different part of the country.

You will find key population statistics in Canada in this article. As well as the current total population, the article includes details of population density, cultural diversity, and age distribution among other essential population statistics.

Read on to gain a better understanding of the makeup of Canada’s population today.

Population Statistics for Canadians

  • The population of Canada was 36,991,981 according to the 2021 census.
  • With over 15 million people, Ontario is the most populated province in Canada and Yukon is the most populated territory.
  • There are five cities in Canada with a population of over one million.
  • Canada has an ageing population: almost 18% of the population is 65 and just over 15% is between 0 and 14 years old.
  • The gender split in Canada is almost equal.
  • English and French are the most commonly spoken first languages in Canada.
  • 3% of the Canadian population were born outside of Canada.
  • Vancouver is the most densely populated area in Canada while the territories are the least populated.

What is the Population of Canada?

According to the population clock from Statistics Canada, the current population of Canada is 40,947,327. This, as well as the other population numbers on the site, are calculated using the most recent estimates of the population. Components of population change, which are modelled according to the population trends of the past year are then added to the estimates.

According to other sources such as the Worldometer or the World Population Review, Canada’s current population is around 38,947,490.

Based on the Census of 2021, the population of Canada was 36,991,981 that year. This represents a 5.2% growth rate between the census of  2016 and the census of 2021

Why Are There Different Population Estimates for Canada?

The size of the current population estimates may differ due to various reasons. For example, they may be based on different sources of data. Usually, the current population estimates are based on the latest census data, surveys, or a range of administrative records. These sources may differ in terms of accuracy, coverage, and timeliness which lead to different population estimates.

Other reasons for the differences in population estimates can arise from the methods used to calculate them such as the household projection method and the cohort-component method. Population estimates also rely on various assumptions, including the fertility and mortality rates, and the assumptions may not always be accurate.

How Has Canada’s Population Changed?

Canada became a country in 1867 and at the time its population was just over three million. Over the following decades, the population grew steadily, reaching 7.2 million in 1921. Canada’s population grew rapidly during the mid-20th century, partly driven by the baby boom that followed the Second World War. The population of Canada more than doubled from 1946 to 1971, from 12.7 million to 25.3 million.

The rate of population growth slowed down in the 1970s and 1980s. By 1991, Canada’s population reached 28 million. The rate of population growth in Canada has picked up again since the turn of the 21st century. This is partly due to increased immigration. In 2021, when the last census was conducted, Canada’s population was 36,991,981.

Another notable change in the population of Canada is the changing demographics as Canada has become increasingly diverse. In recent years, the country has seen an increase in immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The portion of Indigenous people in the Canadian population has also been growing recently.

Population of Provinces and Territories in Canada

Ontario is the most populous province in Canada with almost 16 million people. The smallest population is in Nunavut. The population is predicted to grow in all provinces and territories between now and 2043 except for Newfoundland and Labrador.

The biggest population gains are predicted to be in Ontario and Alberta with its population expected to grow to a similar level with British Columbia. 

The population figures for each province and territory are from the real-time population clock from Statistics Canada from January 2024.

Province / Territory

Population

2043 Prediction (Statista)

Ontario

15,900,614

19,065.300

Quebec

8,989,651

9,472,300

British Columbia

5,609,915

6,669,700

Alberta

4,799,548

6,498,400

Manitoba

1,475,684

1,730,000

Saskatchewan

1,226,008

1,572,400

Nova Scotia

1,070,421

1,099,300

New Brunswick

845,336

857,000

Newfoundland and Labrador

541,448

477,900

Prince Edward Island

176,266

206,700

Yukon

45,275

50,400

Northwest Territories

44,587

51,300

Nunavut

40,905

49,200

Why is the Population of Newfoundland and Labrador Expected to Decrease?

There are different reasons why the population in Newfoundland and Labrador is predicted to decrease. These include an ageing population, out-migration, low birth rate, and economic factors. However, since predictions are based on observed trends in the population changes, they may change over time.

Largest Cities in Canada

According to the latest Census information, there are five cities in Canada where the population is over one million. This is two more than five years ago in the 2016 census when there were only three cities with over a million residents.

There are 54 cities in Canada with a population of over 100,000 and 100 cities where the population is over 50,000 people. Considering the population figures for the provinces and territories in Canada, it is hardly surprising to find the biggest cities in the provinces with the highest populations.

The table below lists the ten most populous cities in Canada.

City

Population in 2021 Census

Toronto, Ontario

2,794,356

Montreal, Quebec

1,762,949

Calgary, Alberta

1,306,784

Ottawa, Ontario

1,017,449

Edmonton, Alberta

1,010,899

Winnipeg, Manitoba

749,607

Mississauga, Ontario

717,961

Vancouver, British Columbia

662,248

Brampton, Ontario

656,480

Hamilton, Ontario

569,353

Population Demographics in Canada

We can learn a lot more about the population of Canada by breaking it down into different demographics.

Age

The median age in Canada is 41 years with approximately 17.7% of the population being 65 or older. 15.3% of the Canadian population is 0-14 years old, while 66.9% are aged 15 to 64 years. Canada, similar to many other developed countries, has an ageing population because of declining birth rates and increasing life expectancy. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years.

Gender

The population in Canada is split fairly evenly between males and females. Up to the age of 44, there are slightly more males than females, but this changes among the population over 45 years of age. However, the difference is minimal, for example in the 45-64 age group the split is 49.8% of males and 50.2% were females.

Ethnicity

According to the 2021 Census, the largest ethnic group in Canada is white with 72.9% of the population. The next largest group is Asian with 17.7% followed by Indigenous at 5.2%, black at 3.5%, Latin American at 1.5%, and mixed at 1.2%. Other groups which each represent less than 1% of the population include Arab, Southeast Asian, African, and West Asian among others.

Language

English and French are the two official languages with the majority, at 58.1%, speaking English as their first language. French is the first language for 18.6% of Canadians. Mandarin Chinese is the third most commonly spoken language in Canada at 1.7% followed by Cantonese at 1.6% and Punjabi and Spanish both at 1.5%. There is also a range of other languages spoken in Canada and many Canadians are bilingual or multilingual.

Religion

Canadians are free to practise any religion they choose. Christians form the largest religious group in Canada, representing 53% of the population. 26.3% say they have no religious affiliation and 3.5% practise Islam. Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism are practised by 2.2%, 1.6%, and 1.4% respectively. 0.9% of the population are Jewish, 0.7% practise other religions, and 0.3% practise Indigenous spirituality. 0.1% did not know or did not want to answer.

Immigration

Immigration is an important factor in the Canadian population growth with 22.3% of the population having been born outside of Canada. The largest number, 790,820, of immigrants have arrived from India. Other countries in the top five source countries of immigrants are China (749,055), the Philippines (642,495), Nigeria (190,940), and the United States (182,455).

Most immigrants who arrive in Canada are admitted under the economic category. This includes skilled workers, investors, and entrepreneurs. 60% of immigrants who arrived in Canada between 2016-2021 belong to this category. During the same period, around 26% of immigrants were admitted under the family category, and around 13% were refugees or admitted under the humanitarian category.

Population Density of Canada

Canada is the world’s 38th most populous country, but thanks to its large size it has a relatively low population density compared to many other developed countries. The population density of Canada is around four people per square kilometre. This is a lot lower than its neighbour, the United States, which has a population density of around 36 people per square kilometre.

Most of Canada’s population is concentrated in urban areas, for example, the metropolitan centres of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. More rural areas as well as the north of the country are far less densely populated.

Most Populated Areas

The most densely populated area in Canada, despite only being the eighth largest city, is Vancouver. This is because of its smaller land area, making the population density of Vancouver 5,621 people per square kilometre. In the metropolitan area of Vancouver, the density is approximately 865 people per square kilometre.

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA)  has a combined population of over six million people. The land area of the area is 7,000 square kilometres, which gives the area a population density of 914 people per square kilometre. The population density in Toronto itself is 4,650 people per square kilometre.

Montreal, which is the second most populated city in Canada, has a population density of 4,036 people per square kilometre, while the metropolitan area has a density of 991 people per square kilometre.

The Least Populated Areas

The territories are the least populated areas in Canada. Yukon, which is in northwestern Canada has a population density of approximately 0.1 people per square kilometre. Nunavut, which is the largest and the northernmost territory, has a population density of under 0.02 people per square kilometre and the population density of Northwest Territories is 0.4 people per square kilometre.

Conclusion

Canada has a diverse population which is growing steadily. Immigration plays a big part in the population growth of Canada as over 20% of the current population was born outside of Canada. The population of Canada is predicted to continue growing in the forthcoming years with Toronto seeing the largest growth in population.

Frequently Asked Questions

The current population of Canada, according to the population clock from Statistics Canada is 39,481,345. However, according to some other sources such as the World Population Review, the population of Canada is currently around 38,600,000.

Vancouver is the most densely populated area of Canada followed by Toronto and Montreal.

The female/male gender split or fairly even in Canada. While there are slightly more males in the younger age groups, there are slightly more females in the older age groups.

Sources