International migration drove Québec’s strong population growth in 2022
Québec, May 24, 2023. – On January 1, 2023, Québec’s population was estimated at 8.8 million. It grew by 149,900 people in 2022, the largest annual increase in the past 50 years. After the significant slowdown in population growth caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the rebound was essentially driven by a marked increase in permanent and temporary immigration.
At the same time, births were down in 2022, while deaths were up notably. As a result, the natural increase (the excess of births over deaths) fell to a particularly low level. These findings are drawn from the 2023 edition of the Bilan démographique du Québec published today by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
Components of population growth, Québec, 2022ᵖ
1. Différence in population size between January 1, 2023 and January 1, 2022. Combinig different demographic component data sources results in a slight residual deviation between total growth and the sum of the components.
Statistics Canada, Demographic Estimates (March 2023). Adapted by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
Births and deaths: Institut de la statistique du Québec.
Population: Strong growth, but lower than in other provinces
The population grew at an even higher pace in the rest of Canada than in Québec, which posted the lowest relative growth of all provinces in 2022. Québec’s growth rate was 1.7%, compared to 3.0% for the rest of Canada. Consequently, Québec’s demographic weight in Canada as a whole decreased again slightly to 22.2% on January 1, 2023.
See highlights on population change
Migration: A record-breaking number of immigrants and non-permanent residents
In 2022, Québec’s international and interprovincial migration exchanges generated a total gain of 146,400 people, surpassing the previous record set in 2019 (95,300 people).
Québec welcomed 68,700 permanent immigrants in 2022, a high that was partially an adjustment after the pandemic-induced drop in admissions.
The estimated number of non-permanent residents (temporary workers, foreign students and asylum seekers) went up by 86,700 in 2022, a record high that brought their total number to about 346,000 on January 1, 2023. Their strong pre-pandemic growth slowed in 2020 and 2021, but non-permanent residents again became the main source of migration growth in 2022, as they were in 2019. According to the January 1, 2023 estimate, Québec is the place of residence of 57% of Canada’s asylum seekers, 16% of its temporary workers, and 12% of its foreign students.
Interprovincial migration losses totalled 3,100 people in 2022, among the lowest on record.
Net international migration peaked in several regions of Québec over the past year. The share of permanent and temporary immigrants residing outside Montréal Island and outside the Montréal metropolitan area tends to increase.
See highlights on external migration
Births at a 15-year low
A total of 80,700 births were recorded in Québec in 2022, representing a 5% decrease from 2021 (84,900) and the lowest number since 2005 (76,341).
The lower number of births in 2022 is part of a general downward trend that began in 2013. There was a rebound in 2021, but it did not continue and may have partially been the isolated effect of 2020 births being pushed into 2021 because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The total fertility rate dropped to 1.49 children per woman in 2022, falling below the threshold of 1.5 children per woman for the first time since 2002. The average age at childbearing continued to rise, at 31.1.
See highlights on births and fertility
After a strong rebound in 2021, life expectancy returned to 2020 levels
There were an estimated 78,400 deaths in 2022, up 12% from 2021 (69,900 deaths). A few factors may explain this exceptional increase, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a resurgence in other respiratory viruses.
Life expectancy in 2022 was nine months shorter than in 2021 due to the increase in deaths. After returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, life expectancy fell in 2022 to 82.3 years (84.1 years for women and 80.5 years for men), on par with 2020 levels. Despite this decline, the average life expectancy of Quebecers remains among the highest in the world.
From the beginning of the pandemic to December 2022, excess mortality (the difference between the number of deaths observed and the number expected) was estimated at 5.6% in Québec. Episodes of excess mortality generally coincided with waves of COVID-19-related deaths. During the Omicron wave in early 2022, excess mortality peaked at 26%. Between August and December 2022, deaths from causes such as influenza and other respiratory viruses were added to those related to COVID-19, resulting in relatively high levels of excess mortality.
See highlights on deaths and mortality
Marriages and conjugal status: A return to pre-pandemic levels
There were 22,850 marriages performed in Québec in 2022, on par with pre-pandemic levels. There was an unprecedented drop in marriages in 2020 (11,300), followed by a slight increase in 2021 (14,700).
Common-law unions continued to grow in popularity in Québec. According to the 2021 Census, 42% of people living with a partner were in a common-law union, a percentage that is increasing across all age groups.
Overall, the proportion of people living as a couple (married or in a common-law union) is declining, except among seniors. Conversely, more people are living alone. This is the case for 18.5% of people aged 15 and over in 2021, up from 8.4% in 1981.
See highlights on marriages and conjugal status
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