Halifax’s population continues to rise. In 2010, Statistics Canada estimated that, for first time, the population has crossed 400,000 people. We represent 43% of the population of Nova Scotia and 17% of the population of Atlantic Canada and those numbers are steadily rising. This leads me, as an economist, to two key questions:
- Where is this growth coming from?
- What does this mean for the people of Halifax?
Where is the growth coming from?
The largest factor in the increase of Halifax’s population today is immigration. Net immigration (Immigrants – Emigrants) accounted for 79% of the population growth in Halifax in 2009/10 and this number continues to rise. We attract immigrants from various places; other locations in Nova Scotia (27%), other provinces in Canada (8.1%) and other countries around the world (43.8%).
The natural growth (births – deaths) is declining. It becomes clear, when looking at how our natural growth has declined over the last 5 years that we need to look externally for our population to grow.
We have a lot of work to do; Nova Scotia attracts less than 1% of the Canada’s international immigrants annually. As the natural increase stagnates, it has become more important than ever to reach out globally for population growth and to develop a Halifax that talented people from everywhere want to be a part of.
What does this mean for the people of HRM?
If you are a regular news reader, you have heard about our aging population and the looming shortage of talented employees (known as the emerging talent gap). Recent reports from Statistics Canada show that in 2015-2021, Canada will have more seniors than children for the first time ever.
As employees retire, there won’t be as many Halifax residents to replace them, especially in areas where specialized skills are required. As such, immigration is critical to the sustainability of our workforce, our attractiveness to new investors, as well as our tax base. If we can ensure that Halifax is filled with talented, motivated and innovative people from around the world, we will be able to ensure that Halifax thrives for everyone.
Next week, I will discuss the advantages of different types of immigration and why international immigration (our largest source) offers the greatest number of benefits to Halifax residents from a tax perspective. As well, I’ll touch on how a good immigration strategy is a great example of sustainable policy for a city like Halifax.
David is the Research Coordinator for the Greater Halifax Partnership. He studied Economics and Philosophy at the University of Prince Edward Island, and has experience working with private, public and non-profit organizations. He maintains the economic data section of the website and provides economic analysis on key issues relating to Halifax.