Globe and Mail Update
Tuesday, March 12 Online Edition, Posted at 11:24 AM EST
The Quebec population jumped by about 100,000 in the past five years, but lagging immigration has left the province with a much slower growth rate than the rest of the country, census information released Tuesday indicates.
Figures from the 2001 census show that Quebec's population grew 1.4 per cent since 1996, barely one-third the national rate of 4 per cent.
That rate is a sharp decline from the province's 3.5-per-cent growth in the previous five-year term. Statistics Canada attributes the reduction to declines in both the province's natural increase by births and in the number of immigrants it receives.
StatsCan observed that, relative to its size, Montreal attracted far fewer immigrants than other large Canadian cities. Toronto and Vancouver surged 9.8 per cent and 8.5 per cent respectively, while Montreal grew only 3 per cent between 1996 and 2001.
"In Ontario and British Columbia, immigration adds about 2 per cent a year to their population, but in Quebec, it's about 1 per cent," Doug Norris, a Statistics Canada demographer, told Canadian Press. "Quebec also has a low birth rate that drives down the natural rate of increase."
More than 7.2 million people reported living in Quebec in 2001, up about 7.1 million in 1996. More than half of the province's population could be found in Montreal and the surrounding urban areas.
Four of the 25 fastest-growing municipalities in the country lie in Montreal's orbit. Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot, Blainville, Mirabel and Saint-Colomban all grew by 20 per cent or more. Conversely, the South Shore communities of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Saint-Hyacinthe and Sorel-Tracy all declined.
Resource-dependent communities in northern Quebec also showed declines.