The West: Alberta growing fastest

Globe and Mail Update
Tuesday, March 12 – Online Edition, Posted at 12:21 PM EST

Saskatchewan is losing people to its next door neighbour — the fastest growing province in the country, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

Resource-rich Alberta — Canada's fastest growing province — saw its population grow by 10.3 per cent between 1996 and last year, compared to the national rate of 4 per cent, according to 2001 census data released Tuesday by Statistics Canada.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan saw its population decline by 1.1 per cent to 979,000 during the same period. Manitoba saw its population increase by a mere 0.5 per cent. Manitoba's overall population totalled 1.12-million in the 2001 Census.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba are seeing a lot of people leave for nearby booming Alberta, exacerbating a decline caused by falling birth rates and smaller number of immigrants, Statscan reports.

Lured by a booming economy, as many as 140,000 people flocked to Alberta from other parts of the country. This gave the province its strongest growth rate since the height of the oil boom in the early 1980s.

The 2001 census counted 2,974,807 people in Alberta — making up 9.9 per cent of Canadians enumerated by the census, compared with 9.3 per cent in 1996.

The Edmonton-Calgary corridor had the largest growth rate among the country's four biggest urban regions. Six of the country's 25 fastest-growing municipalities are in this corridor.

Municipalities in the corridor between Edmonton in the north and Calgary in the south had a population growth of 12.3 per cent or roughly 2.1-million people. The area, which includes Red Deer, Leduc and Wetaskiwin accounted for 72 per cent of Alberta's population and 7 per cent of Canada's.

Meanwhile, in Saskatchewan, Saskatoon and Regina saw populations around the cities growing much faster than in their cores. For example, central Saskatoon grew by 1.6 per cent compared with 1996. At the same time, the number of people living in areas surrounding the core shot up by almost 15 per cent.

In Manitoba, the 2001 census showed the smallest increase in the province's population since 1981. While the province has slightly grown over the past three census periods, the rate of increase has been declining steadily over the past 10 years.

Manitoba bucked the national trend toward urbanization. The number of people living in rural areas has actually risen, unlike most other provinces. That is partly attributed to higher fertility rates among Manitoba's native population.
With a report from Canadian Press

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