P.E.I. population growth slowing, although immigration staying strong

P.E.I.'s population growth rate is slowly shrinking although immigration numbers continue to accelerate. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

The growth rate of Prince Edward Island's population appears to be moderating despite still-increasing immigration.

Statistics Canada released the latest quarterly population figures on Wednesday.

They show that on April 1, the province's population estimate was 177,081, up about 5,300 people from April 1 of the previous year. That's a growth rate of 3.1 per cent.

P.E.I. had for several years been leading Canada in terms of how fast its population is growing, but the rate for this most recent 12 months is actually just below the national growth rate of 3.2 per cent.

The annual rate of growth on Prince Edward Island had been going up in every quarter, starting in the third quarter of 2022 at 3.1 per cent and peaking at 4.0 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2023.

That annual rate edged down to 3.7 per cent in the first three months of this year, and fell again in the most recent quarter.

The slowdown in population growth came in spite of the continuing strength in immigration, which has been the Island's principal driver of growth in recent years.

The 3,674 immigrants who arrived on Prince Edward Island between April 1, 2023, and the same day a year later represented the highest number ever to arrive in a 12-month period. The period finished strong, with 1,330 arriving in the first three months of 2024, the most ever in a first quarter.

The strength in immigration was countered by residents moving to other provinces and a loss of non-permanent residents.

Following a three-year period in which the province regularly recorded a net gain of hundreds of non-permanent residents, the province lost more than 500 people in that category in the last two quarters.

In fact, Prince Edward Island has recorded a net loss of residents to other provinces in the last three quarters. It's the first time that has happened since 2018.

The province continues to lose residents in the category of natural increase, defined as the difference between the number of people born on the Island and the number dying here.

In every quarter since the end of 2021, Prince Edward Island has recorded more deaths than births. In the last 12 months, the province had 145 more deaths than births.