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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Is there anything new in the New West?

MEDIA RELEASE: Canada West Foundation

March 26, 2008

Report forecasts significant demographic transformation and immigration growth instrumental for western Canada

REGINA, March 26 /Troy Media Corporation/ -- Major demographic and economic trends are changing the face of western Canada, says a newly released benchmark study by the Canada West Foundation.

Since its last edition of State of the West five years ago, Canada West Foundation says there have been considerable changes in western Canada, demographically and economically.  Several of the trends discussed in the previous edition have continued, while other significant new trends have emerged. 

Key findings include:

• Communities across western Canada are in the midst of a profound demographic transformation as their populations continue to grow older.  The proportion of the western population under the age of 15 has dropped steadily, from roughly 30% in 1971 to less than 20% in 2007, while the proportion over the age of 65 has increased.  The number of seniors in the West will more than double by 2031.
• The West’s share of total immigrants to Canada has increased in recent years and is virtually the same as the region’s share of the national population (30%).  Immigration will be instrumental for population growth in the West as the natural rate of population increase (births minus deaths) declines.
• Interprovincial migration has been a source of population growth for western Canada as a whole.  From 1972 and 2007, the region attracted 629,000 more people than it lost, while the rest of Canada combined suffered a net loss. 
• Almost 60% of all Aboriginal peoples in Canada live in the West, roughly twice the West’s share of Canada’s population.  The Aboriginal population is younger and has grown faster than the non-Aboriginal population.  In 2006, 32% of Aboriginal peoples were under age 15, compared to 17% of the non-Aboriginal population.  Western Canada’s Aboriginal population grew 16% between 2001 and 2006, almost three times faster than the non-Aboriginal population.
• Large urban areas dominate the populations of the western provinces.  Approximately two-thirds of the population lives in the region’s nine largest urban areas.  Urban areas have been responsible for the overwhelming majority of population growth in the West.
• In terms of overall performance, economic strength within Canada has shifted westward, with the West leading the nation in economic growth in recent years.  The unemployment rate is significantly lower in the West than elsewhere in Canada.  From 1990 to 2007, total employment increased 39.9% in the West compared to 24.4% in the rest of Canada.
• Although there is diversity in terms of the West’s industrial structure, and over 80% of job gains have been in service industries, the West remains a resource-based economy.  The region’s exports are dominated by raw and semi-processed natural resource products.
• The US, by a large margin, is the most important market for western Canada’s exports.  While countries such as China and India have become much bigger players on the world economic stage, the proportion of western Canada’s exports destined for the US increased between 1992 and 2006.

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So, Westerners are getting older, more ethnically diverse, more urban and richer -- and we still rely on the US economy as a market for our exports.

Is there anything new and interesting here I'm missing?

Posted by Matthew Johnston on March 26, 2008 | Permalink

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