Census Analysis – Northwestern Ontario showed a decline of 4.7 percent


2011 Census DiMatteoTHUNDER BAY – Statistics Canada released the first set of 2011 census results today dealing with population and dwelling counts. Canada’s population is up 5.9 percent from 2006, Ontario’s is up 5.7 percent while within Ontario, the North is down overall by 1.4 percent. As the accompanying table shows, the Northeast stayed stable in terms of its overall population while the Northwest showed a decline of 4.7 percent. As for the major urban centers of the North, Greater Sudbury posted a 1.6 percent increase, North Bay a 1 percent increase, and Timmins a 0.4 percent increase. The Sault and Thunder Bay both saw declines in their populations of -0.4 and -1.1 respectively.

The Northwest during the period 2006 to 2011 worked its way through the aftermath of the forest sector crisis with the region outside of Thunder Bay bearing the brunt of the employment and population adjustment. Employment and GDP in Thunder Bay shrank by about 10 percent during the forest sector crisis and its population has been remarkably resilient given the decline.

Employment in the region outside of Thunder Bay shrank by almost 30 percent.

Employment numbers over the last year have been showing increases in Thunder Bay and the Northwest and these population results are hopefully a lagging indicator. The Northeast has been buoyed by its mining sector though there is a redistribution of population towards the major urban centers.

Evidence from the Northeast suggests that should the Ring of Fire mining development successfully proceed, the Northwest can also expect to see stabilization and even some growth in its population.

What will be interesting is the additional sub-regional breakdowns in population with the Northeast and the Northwest. For example, between 2001 and 2006, while the Northwest declined in population, the Kenora District actually saw increasing population. As well, the aboriginal population increased substantially in the Northwest between 2001 and 2006. Further results and analysis on whether these trends have continued since 2006 to come.

Livio Di Matteo

Di MatteoLivio Di Matteo is an economist in Thunder Bay, Ontario specializing in public policy, health economics, public finance and economic history.  Livio Di Matteo is a graduate of the Fort William Collegiate Institute (1898-2005) whose school motto “Agimus Meliora” has served as a personal inspiration.  Livio Di Matteo holds a PhD from McMaster University, an MA from the University of Western Ontario, and an Honours BA from Lakehead University. He is Professor of Economics at Lakehead University where he has served since 1990. His research has explored the sustainability of provincial government health spending, historical wealth and asset holding and economic performance and institutions in Northwestern Ontario and the central North American economic region. His historical wealth research using census-linked probate records is funded by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He has constructed, assembled and analyzed nearly 12,000 estate files for Ontario over the period 1870 to 1930. Livio Di Matteo writes and comments on public policy and his articles have appeared in the National Post, Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal, and NetNewsledger.com.  Livio Di Matteo has had an entry in Canadian Who’s Who since 1995.

This article was originally posted on Livio Di Matteo’s NORTHERN ECONOMIST Blog at Northern Economist 2.0.

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