indicatorThe Owl

Population update

Alberta continues to lead all provinces in population growth

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 27 March 2024 2 min read

Think I'll go out to Alberta

Weather's good there in the fall

I got some friends that I can go to workin' for

—”Four Strong Winds,” Ian Tyson

Annual growth remains red hot

According to the latest population estimates from Statistics Canada, Alberta added 202,324 residents—roughly the population of two Red Deers—between January 1, 2023 and January 1, 2024 for a growth rate of 4.4%. You have to go back to 1981 to find a higher pace of annual growth.

That 4.4% was also the highest of any province and well above the national rate of 3.2%—the highest it has been since 1957.

Just under two-thirds of Alberta’s growth since January 2023 came from net international migration with net interprovincial migration accounting for 27% of new residents and natural increase (births less deaths) for 8%.

Strong gains from non-permanent international residents* continued to be a key driver of population growth in Alberta. Of the 130,870 residents gained from international migration last year, 60% (78,370) were in the non-permanent category.

Ontario was the main source of interprovincial migrants to Alberta, accounting for 42% of Alberta’s net gain from the rest of the country last year. British Columbia was the second largest source at 28% of the total followed by Saskatchewan at 9%. While job opportunities are always a key factor keeping people in Alberta and attracting them to it, the relative affordability of housing has emerged as a driving force with average house prices several hundred thousand dollars higher in B.C. and Ontario than in Alberta.

Quarter-over-quarter growth slower, but still strong

Zeroing in on the change between the third and fourth quarter of last year, the pace of population growth in Alberta slowed from 1.3% to 0.9%. Nationally, the growth rate also slowed, going from 1.1% to 0.6%.

Interprovincial migration, which can be quite sensitive to seasonal factors, fell from a net gain of 17,094 for Alberta in the third quarter to 9,913 additional residents in the fourth quarter (-42%). Despite the smaller gain, this was the 10th quarter in a row in which Alberta’s population grew from interprovincial migration, a turnaround from the quarterly losses that marked the period between mid-2015 and mid-2021.

The pace of growth from other countries also slowed, falling from the record high of 39,212 to 31,037—the third highest gain on record—for a drop of 21%. The pullback was much larger at the national level at -42%.

Our latest forecast (which uses the standard July 1 to June 30 period to assess annual population change), sees the slowdown evident in the fourth quarter of 2023 continuing with the result being more moderate population growth in 2024 and 2025 than we saw last year.

Alberta’s population gains going forward will, however, still be strong compared to most other parts of Canada and developed economies around the world and, in turn, help drive ongoing economic expansion in the province.

*A non‑permanent resident is a person from another country with a usual place of residence in Canada who has a work or study permit or who has claimed refugee status. Family members living with work or study permit holders are also included, unless these family members are already Canadian citizens or landed immigrants or permanent residents.

Alberta's population growth was stronger than the national average in 2023

Alberta's population growth was stronger than the national average in 2023

Economics News

Subscribe and get a quick daily snapshot of what’s happening in Alberta’s economy

Need help?

Our Client Care team will be happy to assist.

Chat now
ATB Virtual Assistant
The ATB Virtual Assistant doesn't support landscape mode. Please tilt your device vertically to portrait mode.