Population Issues in Canada

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The idea that Canada has a problem with overpopulation might strike most Canadians as absurd. Many see Canada as a vast empty land ripe for massive human settlement. (Cassils & Ward, 2001) Recent insights suggest that people greatly overestimate Canada's carrying capacity.

To bring about major and essential shifts in perception, Canada needs to develop a population policy that looks at human numbers in the context of the natural environment that supports them. (Cassils & Ward, 2001) Accepting the common thought that Canada is a lightly populated country, most Canadians have concluded that the problem of overpopulation is a concern of other places and not them. However, the numbers say otherwise.

Since Confederation, the Canadian population has grown very quickly. It rose from 3,463,000 in 1867 to 31,000,000 in 2001. (Statistics Canada, 2002) The following chart shows this rise in population and its occurrence in each province. Statistics Canada (2002) estimates that the population should reach about 36,000,000 in 2025.

Joel Cohen (1995) calculates that if every couple from 1990 on had exactly as many children as required to replace the parents, the world population would grow from 5.3 billion in 1990 to 7.7 billion in 2050. However, with the expected surge of environmental disasters and the accompanying rise in the number of environmental and economic refugees and the growth of human smuggling, the population may be much higher within a generation or two. (Daily, Ehrlich & Ehrlich, 1994) This represents a potential attack of which the Government of Canada is aware, but for which it appears to be very ill-prepared.





Newfoundland and Labrador554.1545.3540.7537.2533.8

Prince Edward Island136.9136.9137.6138.1138.5

Nova Scotia934.5936.1939.7941.2942.7

New Brunswick754.2753.3754.4755.3757.1






British Columbia3,959.73,997.14,028.14,058.84,095.9


Northwest Territories41.841.141.040.940.9


Data retrieved on July 1 of each year.

Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM II, table...