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Economic Viewpoint

A Place to Land, But Is it Still a Place to Grow? Ontario’s Population Growth: Recent Trends and Implications

June 29, 2023
Marc Desormeaux
Principal Economist

Following the release of Statistics Canada’s Q1 2023 population data, we review recent demographic trends in Ontario, quantify their potential impacts and discuss their implications.

Immigrant landings and net non‑permanent resident admissions helped Ontario’s population grow by 504.6k (3.4%) in the 12 months to Q2 2023—the fastest year‑over‑year pace since the 1970s. Those explosive gains came despite record numbers of Ontarians leaving for other provinces.

Like new immigrants, non‑permanent residents have not traditionally fared as well in the labour market as Canadian‑born workers, but the gap appears to have narrowed more recently.

Yet, under a plausible downside population growth scenario, our modelling suggests a permanent drag of up to 0.5 percentage points from Ontario’s annual economic growth rate by mid‑decade. That is a meaningful impact with Canadian growth expected to slow to a rate near zero as we progress through 2024.

Amid fundamental shifts in its demographic growth, Canada’s largest province must remain laser‑focused on improving housing affordability. And policymakers and researchers alike need more data on temporary workers in Canada. Only then can Ontario realize its full economic potential.