After a sharp slowdown at the beginning of the pandemic, Québec’s population growth rebounded in 2021, and even more so in 2022
Québec, December 15, 2022. – On July 1, 2022, Québec’s population was estimated at 8.7 million. Québec’s population growth picked up in 2021 with an increase of 58,600 people, after being halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The return to stronger international migration gains played a key role in this recovery. These gains have increased since the beginning of 2022 and, consequently, population growth for the first six months of the year returned to pre-pandemic levels and even exceeded them slightly.
Meanwhile, there were fewer deaths and more births in 2021 than in 2020. However, the opposite situation is observed in the early data for 2022, which show that deaths are up and births are down. These findings are drawn from the 2022 edition of the Bilan démographique du Québec published today by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
Population growth per half-year, Québec, 2018–2022
The first half (H1) covers the months from January to June, and the second half (H2), from July to December.
Statistics Canada, Demographic Estimates (September 2022). Adapted by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
People aged 65 and over outnumber those under 20
For the first time, people aged 65 and over outnumber those under 20. On July 1, 2022, one fifth of the Québec population (20.6%) was under the age of 20, and another fifth (20.8%) was 65 or over.
Migration up in 2021 and even more so in 2022
In 2021, Québec’s international and interprovincial migratory exchanges generated a total gain of 43,600 people, compared to only 11,700 people in 2020:
- Québec welcomed 50,300 permanent immigrants in 2021, compared to 25,200 in 2020, and this number has continued to increase since the beginning of 2022.
- The number of non-permanent residents (temporary workers, foreign students and asylum seekers) only rose by about 1,300 in 2021. From 2016 to 2019, net non-permanent residents increased sharply and became the main source of migration growth in 2019. In the second quarter of 2022, the influx of non-permanent residents returned to its pre-pandemic rhythm, even setting a record for a net increase in a single quarter (+25,800 people).
- Interprovincial migration losses totalled 2,200 people in 2021, among the smallest ever registered. Data for the first half of 2022 show that as many Québec residents moved to another province as the reverse, a situation rarely observed before.
- Net emigration, meaning the difference between the number of people who left the country and the number of people who came back from abroad, is estimated at -5,800 people in 2021.
Births back to their pre-pandemic level, but a downward trend is observed for 2022
In total, 84,900 births were recorded in Québec in 2021. This represents an increase of almost 4% from 2020 (82,000) and a return to the level observed in 2019 (84,300).
The start of the COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in a decrease in conceptions and may be responsible for the decline in births observed in the last few months of 2020 and in early 2021. The impact of the health crisis appears to have been of short duration however, as a catch-up in births was observed starting in March 2021, nine months after the end of the first wave. Nevertheless, early data for 2022 show that this increase did not continue, and even suggest that the number of births could be lower than in 2020.
The total fertility rate rose to 1.58 children per woman in 2021 after declining to 1.52 in 2020. This is comparable to the rates observed for 2019 (1.57) and 2018 (1.59).
Fewer deaths in 2021, but excess mortality returns in 2022
The preliminary number of deaths for 2021 is estimated at 69,900. This represents a decline from the exceptionally high number of deaths in 2020 (74,550), despite the significant number of COVID-19 related deaths reported in 2021.
For the period from March 2020 to mid-September 2022, excess mortality—the difference between the number of deaths observed and the number expected under normal circumstances—is estimated at 4.4% in Québec. After being fairly high in 2020, and overall zero in 2021, excess mortality increased in 2022, particularly during the Omicron wave in January. Still, the province of Québec is one of the places where deaths have increased the least since the start of the pandemic. In contrast, the United States has one of the highest excess mortality rates among OECD countries. In the rest of Canada, excess mortality was initially lower than in Québec, but gradually moved closer to the Québec rate and surpassed it in 2021.
Life expectancy in Québec, which decreased significantly in 2020, returned to its pre-pandemic level, reaching 84.9 years for women and 81.1 years for men in 2021. Contrary to what has been observed in Québec, life expectancy in 2021 has not returned to 2019 levels in most countries for which data are available.
More marriages celebrated in 2021 than in 2020, but still far fewer than before the pandemic
The number of marriages celebrated in Québec in 2021 is estimated at 14,700. This is a 30% increase from 2020 (11,300), a year marked by an unprecedented drop in marriages (-49%) associated with the health crisis. Despite the rebound in 2021, there were far fewer marriages than before the pandemic (between 22,000 and 23,500 annually over the past 15 years). However, marriage numbers seem to have returned to their pre-pandemic levels in the last few months of 2021.
Only 18% of men and 20% of women are expected to marry at least once before their 50th birthday according to 2021 nuptiality rates. In comparison, these rates stood at 26% and 30%, respectively, in 2019.
Upcoming release of regional data
Data on migration between regions and population data at the level of administrative regions, RCMs and municipalities will be released on January 11, 2023. These data will cover the period from July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2022.
Subscribe to the Institut de la statistique du Québec’s press releases and notices of release to be notified when new content is published.
The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for conducting all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.
Information and Documentation Centre
or 1-800-463-4090 (toll-free in Canada and the United States)