Atlantic: Newfoundland's population plunges

Globe and Mail Update
Tuesday, March 12 – Online Edition, Posted at 11:29 AM EST

Emigration hit Newfoundland and Labrador hard in the past five years, new census data shows, causing a 7-per-cent plunge in the population of Canada's easternmost province.

Statistics Canada reported Tuesday a second straight decline in Newfoundland. The province lost 2.9 per cent of its population between 1991 and 1996 and another 55,000 people between 1996 and 2001.

The collapse of the fishery over the past 10 years is being cited as the main reason for the decline. Alberta was the only resource-based region to avoid population decline, François Nault, a Statistics Canada demographer, told Canadian Press.

"The prime example is Newfoundland. Not only is their natural increase going down, but they have out-migration," he said. "The population is there up to 18 or 20, then the movement starts out. It's a vicious circle because by losing the workers, you are also losing the parents who have children."

Roughly 513,000 people now live in Newfoundland.

New Brunswick's population also dwindled, but much less dramatically, over the same five-year period, down by about 9,000 people to 738,000 — a drop of 1.2 per cent.

Prince Edward Island was the only Atlantic province to grow over the past five years. And even PEI's 0.5-per-cent growth was paltry compared with the 4-per-cent national average. The Island's population grew to 135,294 from 134,557, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

Nova Scotia's population declined for the first time, but only barely. The province's population dipped by about 1,000 people (roughly 0.1 per cent) to 909,000 since 1996.

Among provinces that showed a decline, Nova Scotia exhibited the slowest rate.

Copyright © 2003 Bell Globemedia Inc. All Rights Reserved.