There has been no dramatic shift in population growth or immigrant settlement in rural Ontario in 2014 compared to 2013. Ontario’s rural population is not growing as a whole, in contrast to urban areas of the province. However, some areas are growing, and some are attracting immigrants.
The very first blog for REAPontario described the results of two “Focus on Rural Ontario” reports issued by the *Rural Ontario Institute* in 2013. Today’s blog provides an update of that data based on three more reports recently released by the Rural Ontario Institute. These August 2015 reports are based on data for the year 2014.
They focus on change in Ontario’s non-metropolitan population (Vol 3, #1), components of that population change (Vol 3, #2), and immigrant arrivals (Vol 3, #3). Each of the reports can be downloaded from *this page*.
NOTE: The ROI reports were written by Ray Bollman who is a member of the REAPontario research team.
#1 Change in non-metro population
In this research, non-metro areas were defined as:
the population living outside the commuting zone of a Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) (where an incorporated town or municipality (i.e. a census sub-division (CSD)) would be delineated as part of the CMA if 50% of the workforce commuted to the CMA). (Report #1, p. 2)
Before 2006, Ontario’s overall non-metro population was growing, but there has been virtually no change since that time. From 2006 to 2014, the population held steady at about 2.8 million. Because urban areas are growing, the non-metro share of the province’s population has been on a slow decline from 25% in 1996 to 21% in 2014. (see Figure 1, CT: if you want to include, only if not too complicated and shows up well)
Yet growth is happening in one-third to one-half of non-metro census divisions. The rural areas with continuous population growth since 1996 are Haliburton, Muskoka, Manitoulin, Northumberland and Renfrew. Some of these communities are popular cottage areas and perhaps are becoming choices for retirees. The areas with continuous population loss are located in Ontario’s north: Algoma, Cochrane, Huron, Rainy River, Sudbury and Timiskaming.
#2 Components of non-metro population change
What accounts for population changes in the province’s rural areas? Several factors were identified in the research:
- more deaths than births, since 2009
- greater out-migration to other areas (generally to other provinces) compared to in-migration, since 2004
- very small contribution by net international migration, or immigrant arrivals, since 2003 (only 0.1% compared to 1.2% in metro CDs, with most of it offset by immigrant departures)
#3 Immigrant arrivals
On a net basis, immigration contributed a very small 0.015% to non-metro population growth in 2014.
Across all non-metro areas in 2014, immigrant arrivals represented less than one-tenth of one percent of the total population. This is compared to 0.3% across all partially-non-metro CDs and 1.2% across all metro CDs.
The top two non-metro areas in terms of net immigration were Perth and Lanark. Rainy River and Bruce had the highest emigrant departures.
- Are there any programs, policies, or events that might alter the steady population trends outlined in this article? Are they desirable from your perspective?
- What opportunities can be identified in the midst of these trends?
Sarah Wayland, Principal Investigator