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    Québec population: growth slowed down significantly in 2020, but began to recover in 2021

    Québec, December 8, 2021. – After slowing down sharply in 2020, Québec’s population growth picked up moderately in the first six months of 2021. As of July 1, 2021, Québec had a population of 8,604,500, up by 25,100 from the beginning of the year. This six-month increase is higher than the one recorded for all of 2020, but is still less than half the growth observed in the first six months of the years 2017 to 2019. These findings are drawn from the 2021 edition of the Bilan démographique du Québec published today by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

    Population growth by half-year, Québec, 2017-2021

    Population growth by half-year, Québec, 2017-2021

    Note: The first half (H1) covers the months from January to June, and the second half (H2), from July to December.
    Source: Statistics Canada, Demographic Estimates (September 2021). Adapted by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

    The drop in international migration gains played a major role in the slowdown in population growth in 2020. This decline was mainly due to the implementation of border restrictions to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. Québec also registered a strong increase in deaths and a lower number of births.

    Migration: after a sharp decline in 2020, international migration rebounded slightly in early 2021

    In 2020, total migratory exchanges generated a gain of 14,000 people, compared to 93,500 people in 2019. This significant decline was mainly due to a decrease in the number of non-permanent residents (temporary workers, foreign students and asylum seekers). Their number declined in 2020 (-9,400), after registering a record increase in 2019 (+61,700). In the first half of 2021, there was some recovery, but the gains remained much smaller than before the pandemic.

    At the same time, Québec received 25,200 immigrants in 2020, compared to 40,600 in 2019. For the first six months of 2021, there was an increase in admissions, although the recovery was still hindered by the health crisis.

    On the other hand, data for the first half of 2021 show slight gains in migratory exchanges with the other Canadian provinces, a rare occurrence for Québec, which recorded slight losses in 2020 (-4,100 people).

    Deaths: back to normal after the excess mortality episodes of 2020

    In the first 10 months of the pandemic (March to December 2020), the number of deaths in Québec is estimated to have been 9% higher than normally expected. However, excess mortality was zero or negative from February to August 2021, so that after 18 months of the pandemic, the cumulative excess mortality was 3.7%.

    In the rest of Canada, excess mortality was initially lower than in Québec, but remained generally higher starting in July 2020. After 18 months of the pandemic, cumulative excess mortality in the rest of Canada and in Québec was similar.

    Relative excess mortality from January 2020 to August 2021, by week, Québec, rest of Canada and the United States

    Surmortalité relative estimée de janvier 2020 à août 2021, par semaine, Québec, reste du Canada et États-Unis

    Sources: Institut de la statistique du Québec. Statistics Canada, Table 13-10-0784-01. Adapted by the Institut de la statistique du Québec. National Center for Health Statistics.

    Life expectancy in Québec in 2020 was 80.6 years for men and 84.0 years for women, down by 6 and 9 months respectively from 2019. The magnitude of these declines, which is explained by the excess mortality recorded due to COVID-19, are an exception, as life expectancy tends to increase over the years. Life expectancy also decreased in several countries, often to an even greater extent than in Québec.

    Births: the decline in 2020 gives way to a slight increase in 2021

    The year 2020 ended with fewer births than in 2019 in Québec. The total number of births was 81,850, 3% less than in the previous year. It is possible that reduced migration flows affected the number of births in 2020, as it limited the entry of migrant women of childbearing age.

    Early data for 2021, however, suggest a slight increase in births, with numbers expected to resemble the average of previous years.

    The total fertility rate was 1.52 children per woman in 2020, down from 1.57 in 2019. A downward trend has been observed since 2009 (1.73).

    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 in January 2022. These data will cover the period from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021, during which the pandemic may have had an impact on regional demographics.


    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.

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