The percent of population that is rural varies by province: N.L. (54%); P.E.I. (45%); N.B. (42%); Sask. (40%); N.S. (36%); Man. (32%); Alta. (21%); Que. (20%); B.C. (13%); Ont. (12%). Quebec has the largest rural population (1.49 million).

Urbanization continuing: rural comprised 20.7% of Canada’s population in 1996; 19.7% in 2001; and 18.9% in 2006.

Not all rural areas are in decline.

Declining and aging population as well as youth out-migration in many but not all rural areas.

Although the population of rural Canada increased by 1.1% over 2001 to 2006, approximately 55% of rural communities lost population.

Between 2001 and 2006, the growth in and stability of rural Canada's population was concentrated in 45% of rural communities: rural communities adjacent to urban centres, those that are amenity-rich and remote rural areas with Aboriginal populations (with high birth rates) have gained population.

  • Population in urban-adjacent communities increased 4.9% over 2001 and 2006.
  • Population growth in amenity-rich communities [e.g. Sylvan Lake, Alta. (+36.1%); Wasaga Beach, Ont. (+21.1%); Sainte-Adèle, Que. (+15.4%)]
  • Population in the rural territories increased 8.7% over 2001 and 2006.

Some provinces' rural communities gained population over 2001 and 2006 (e.g. Alta (+4%); Ont. (+2.5%); Que. and Man. (+2.4%); BC (+0.7%) while other provinces' rural communities lost population (N.L (-5.6%); Sask. (-4.6%); N.B. (-2.2%); N.S. (-1.8%); P.E.I. (-1.3%).

Aboriginal people comprised 9.3% of Canada's rural population in 2006, up from 8.2% in 2001. Rural Manitoba had the largest share of aboriginal population (25.4%), followed by rural Saskatchewan (20.9%), rural British Columbia (12.2%), and rural Alberta (11.9%).

Aboriginal peoples represent a potential growing labour force for rural but need skills and education.

Rural areas are generally aging faster than urban areas.




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Rural Fact

While the contribution of natural resources to Canada's GDP fell from 22.5% in 2000 to 20.1% in 2008, the contribution of natural resources to exports increased from 45% of all exports of goods in 2002 to 65%...