The population growth in Canada slowed to 1.3 per cent in large urban regions between July 2019 and July 2020, compared with 1.7 per cent of the same period of a year earlier, according to Statistics Canada.
However, the long-term trend of urbanization continued over that period, as the other regions of the country grew at a lower rate of 0.6 per cent, Xinhua news agency quoted Statistics Canada as saying in a report issued on Thursday.
In July 2020, some 27.3 million people, or 71.8 per cent of Canadians, lived in large urban regions, namely census metropolitan areas.
Despite lower international migration (permanent and temporary) due to travel restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of Covid-19, international migration accounted for 90.3 per cent of the growth in census metropolitan areas from July 2019 to July 2020.
In comparison, it accounted for just over one-third of the population growth in other regions of the country.
Excess mortality attributable to the pandemic has had a limited impact on the slowing population growth in urban centres, despite them being the epicentres of the pandemic.
More people are opting to live outside of Canada’s largest urban centres, which is contributing to ongoing urban sprawl.
Despite still showing overall positive population growth, mostly due to international migration, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver continued to see more people moving out to other regions of their province rather than moving in.
The desire to live outside the largest urban centres was also reflected in the rapidly increasing housing costs in neighbouring real estate markets.
Personal health, the ability to work remotely, and higher housing costs are among the most important factors contributing to the decision of many Canadians to continue or to no longer continue living in large urban centres hardest hit by the pandemic, said Statistics Canada.