Regional Population Declines: Census 2011

Jennifer Thurbide

Statisticians in Ottawa released a national head count last week, the first set of results in a series collected through the 2011 census.

On May 10, 2011 over 33.4 million people were counted which Statistics Canada says was twice as many people as in 1961 and 10 times as many as in the 1861 Census.

“Between 2006 and 2011, Canada’s population grew by 5.9 per cent, up slightly from the previous intercensal period (2001-2006), when it grew by 5.4 per cent,” said the department’s website upon the release of the data. “Canada’s population growth between 2006 and 2011 was the highest among G8 countries…Every province and most territories saw its population increase between 2006 and 2011.” The Northwest Territories was the only region in the country that saw a drop in population, as there was a two person difference in the 2011 and 2006 population counts.

Almost 13 million people live in the province of Ontario which is a 5.7 per cent population change over the previous five years, lowest change in population since the 1980s and even closer to home 57,607 residents were counted in the Kenora district representing a 10 per cent population decrease over the previous reporting period. With provinces like British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba experiencing strong population growths a trend evident in the 2006 census has continued which is many Canadians are choosing to move west.

In the Red Lake district despite continued economic prosperity the Municipality is 160 people smaller in 2011 than in 2006 when the population registered 4,526 charting a 3.5 per cent population change. In 2006 the district marked almost a seven per cent increase in population growth over 2001.

Mayor Phil Vinet summed up the number last week as the equivalent of two full plane loads and noted although the statistics indicate a decrease the news is not all bad. “I think we have done extremely well if I look at what is happening in the region and what is happening in the north Red Lake has fared quite well. The Kenora district went down over 10 per cent. We went down over three per cent so regionally speaking we sustained the least amount of loss.” Vinet says the data is indicative of a natural population shift from the north and in other data is reflective of all age groups and cautions those looking at the numbers in isolation as they may not tell the whole story. “Because the transients are here on a day to day basis we probably haven’t experienced a population drop but it is highly unlikely that the transient workforce would have been included in our Census because they would be included in their primary residence census.”

Central statistics on the number of transient workers in the district at any given time do not exist, however, last September Community Relations Liaison Mark Vermette reported the region’s largest employer, Goldcorp Red Lake Gold Mines, had 734 of their 933 full time staff categorized as local which is living permanently in the Red Lake District. Of the 200 which were considered non- permanent residents 161 were living in the Balmer Complex. In the same period of time the employer had 34 temporary workers and 50 summer students in 2011. At any given time 60 contracting or consulting companies can be working for the local operation on site specific projects such as the Cochenour Mine refabrication. Over 200 contract employees are living at the Balmer Complex.

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