It’s been an ongoing trend for decades now, and last year the stampede towards the West geared up even more. Population growth among the ten provinces varies, but the fastest growing region is decidedly the Prairies—with Alberta well in the lead.
According to the latest population estimates from Statistics Canada, Alberta’s population stood at 3.931 million as of January 1st of 2013. Ontario is still by far the largest province in the country with 13.56 million. Quebec (8.1 million) and British Columbia (4.6) follow in 2nd and 3rd spots.
But the pace at which Alberta is growing has the province catching up quickly. Between January 1 of 2012 and 2013, Alberta’s population grew by just over 3.0 per cent. That was more than double the national growth rate (1.1 per cent), and more than three times the rate of growth in either Ontario or Quebec. The trend is clearly towards growth in the Prairie region, with Saskatchewan and Manitoba also posting growth rates above the national average.
Alberta’s population is especially closing the gap with that of British Columbia; excluding Atlantic Canada, B.C. had the very slowest rate of growth at only 0.84 per cent. With only 0.7 million more people, its population is now only 1/6 larger than Alberta’s.
If both provinces continue to grow at the same paces they set last year, Alberta will surpass B.C. and become the third largest province within eight years.
This column originally appeared in The Globe and Mail on March 14, 2013.
The placards made clear their demand: "Free tuition NOW." But if the picketing university students were honest, their signs would read: "I want someone else to pay for my education." Education is never free. Someone has to pay.
But the students' view that someone else should help pay for their tuition is a reasonable request. Society benefits tremendously from an educated work force, so taxpayers (and future taxpayers) should be expected to pay at least part of postsecondary education. The fight usually boils down to how much of the cost should fall on students, and how much on taxpayers.
At the root of the debate are the economic principles of cost and value. They're related, but they're not the same thing.