Overview

Every year the Ministry of Finance (MoF) updates its population projections for Ontario and each of its 49 census divisions to reflect the most recent trends and historical data. The Spring 2016 update is based on new 2015 population estimates from Statistics Canada and reflects minor changes in trends in fertility, mortality and migration.

MofF - Chart 00
Figure 1. Map of Ontario Census Divisions.

The projections provide three reasonable growth scenarios for the population of Ontario to 2041. The medium-growth or reference scenario is considered most likely to occur if recent trends continue. The low- and high-growth scenarios provide a forecast range based on plausible changes in the components of growth. Population is projected for each of the 49 census divisions for the reference scenario only.

The MoF’s analysis and commentary on the population projections includes several Charts and Tables that reference various geographic units.

Geographic Units
Province Charts 1-4, 13-19; Table B; Appendix: Tables 1-3
Regions (6) Chart 8; Table A; Appendix: Tables 10-15
Census Divisions (49) Charts 7, 9-12; Appendix: Tables 4-5, 10.1-10.5, 11.1-11.13, 12.1-12.10, 13.1-13.10, 14.1-14.8, 15.1-15.3
Demographic Units
Single Years (0, 1, …, 90+) Appendix: Table 6
Five-Year Groupings (0-4, 5-9, …, 85-89, 90+) Appendix: Tables 7-10
Life Cycle Groupings (0-14, 15-64, 65+) Charts 5-6, 10-12; Appendix: Table 2

Our contribution

To assist in planning, delivering, and evaluating mental health services for children and youth, we extend the MoF’s analysis and commentary on the population projections to include the Children and Youth Mental Health (CYMH) Service Areas used by the Ministry of Children and Youth (MCYS). For the CYMH Service Areas, we derive two datasets:

We also derive different population projections for young people:

  • simple groupings of
    • 0 – 17 year olds (to align with the definition of “child” in the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA), and
    • 0 – 24 year olds (a demographic that is arguably more meaningful from a developmental point of view)
  • life cycle groupings of
    • children (0 – 14 year olds), and
    • youth (15 – 24 year olds)
  • transitional-age group of
    • young persons making the transition from mental health services for “children” (16 and 17 year olds) under the CFSA to mental health services for “emerging adults” (18, 19, and 20 year olds) under the Mental Health Act in Ontario
Census Districts (49)
   Land Area (forthcoming)
   Total Population (forthcoming)
CYMH Service Areas (33)
  Land Area CYMHSAS_Land_Area.csv
  Total Population CYMHSAS_Total_Population_2016_2041.csv
Integrated Service Regions (5)
   Land Area (forthcoming)
   Total Population (forthcoming)
Local Health Integration Networks (14)
   Land Area (forthcoming)
   Total Population (forthcoming)

We also derive different population projections for young people:

  • simple groupings of
    • 0 – 17 year olds (to align with the definition of “child” in the Child and Family Services Act that governs the work of the MCYS), and
    • 0 – 24 year olds (a demographic that is arguably more meaningful from a developmental point of view)
  • life cycle groupings of
    • 0 – 14 year olds (children), and
    • 15 – 24 year olds (youth)
  • a transitional-age group of
    • young persons making the transition from mental health services for “children” (16 and 17 years old) under the MCYS/CFSA to mental health services for “emerging adults” (18, 19, and 20 years old) under the MOHLTC/Mental Health Act in Ontario

CYMHSAS_0017_2016_2041.csv, CYMHSAS_1620_2016_2041.csv and others …., have this structure:

area_name

id

Population_YYYY, where YYYY = {2016, 2017, …, 2041}

Density_YYYY, where YYYY = {2016, 2017, …, 2041}

Share _YYYY, where YYYY = {2016, 2017, …, 2041}

AnnualGrowth_YYYY, where YYYY = {2017, 2018, …, 2041}

Growth_YYYY_vs_2017, where YYYY = {2021, 2026, 2031, 2036, 2041}

Population_1524_2016; .

Growth_1524_2036_vs_2017

..

Geographic Units
Integrated Service Regions (5) (forthcoming)
CYMH Service Areas (33)
LHINs (14) (forthcoming)
Demographic Units
Simple Groupings (0-17, 0-24) CYMHSAS_0017_2016_2041.csv
Life Cycle Groupings (0-14, 15-24) CYMHSAS_0014_2016_2041.csv

CYMHSAS_1524_2016_2041.csv

Transitional-Age Grouping (16-20) CYMHSAS_1620_2016_2041.csv

Under all three scenarios, Ontario’s population is projected to experience moderate growth over the 2015–2041 period. In the reference scenario, population is projected to grow 30.1 per cent, or almost 4.2 million, over the next 26 years, from an estimated 13.8 million on July 1, 2015 to more than 17.9 million on July 1, 2041 (Chart 1).

MofF - Chart 1
Chart 1. Ontario population, 1971 to 2014

The annual rate of growth of Ontario’s population in the reference scenario is projected to decline gradually from 1.2 per cent to 0.8 per cent over the projection period (Chart 2).

MofF - Chart 2
Chart 2. Annual rate of population growth in Ontario, 1971 to 2041.

Components of population changeIn any given year, the contributions of natural increase and net migration to population growth vary. While natural increase trends evolve slowly, net migration can be more variable, mostly due to swings in interprovincial migration and variations in international immigration.The number of births and deaths has been rising slowly and at a similar pace. As a result, natural increase has been fairly stable at about 50,000 annually over the last decade.Net migration levels to Ontario have averaged about 77,000 per year in the past decade, with a low of 52,000 in 2006–07 and a high of 96,000 in 2011–12.Net migration is projected to be higher at the beginning of the projections than it has been during the past few years as net losses of population through interprovincial migration have recently turned to gains and federal immigration targets were raised by a significant amount. Ontario’s annual net migration gain is projected to increase over the projection period from 114,000 in 2015–16 to 130,000 by 2040–41. The share of population growth accounted for by net migration is projected to rise from 68 per cent to almost 89 per cent by 2041 as a result of lower natural increase.

MofF - Chart 3
Chart 3. Contribution of natural increase and net migration to population growth, 1971 to 2041.

Future levels of natural increase will be affected by two main factors over the projection period:

  • The passage of the baby boom echo generation (children of baby boomers) through peak fertility years, which results in an increase in the number of births through the late 2010s and early 2020s.
  • The transition of large cohorts of baby boomers into the senior age group.

Overall, natural increase is projected to be fairly stable around 55,000 over the first decade of the projections, followed by a steady decline to less than 17,000 by 2040–41. The share of population growth accounted for by natural increase is projected to decline from 32 per cent in 2015–16 to 11 per cent by 2040–41.Age structureBy 2041, there will be more people in every age group in Ontario compared to 2015, with a sharp increase in the number of seniors. Baby boomers will have swelled the ranks of seniors; children of the baby boom echo generation will be of school-age; and the baby boom echo cohorts, along with a new generation of immigrants, will have bolstered the population aged 15–64.

MofF - Chart 4
Chart 4. Age pyramid of population, 2015 to 2041

The median age of Ontario’s population is projected to rise from 41 years in 2015 to 45 years in 2041. The number of seniors aged 65 and over is projected to more than double from about 2.2 million, or 16.0 per cent of population in 2015, to over 4.5 million, or 25.3 per cent, by 2041. In 2015, for the first time, seniors accounted for a larger share of population than children aged 0–14.

MofF - Chart 5
Chart 5. Proportion of population aged 0-14, 15-64, and 65+, 1971 to 2041.

The number of children aged 0–14 is projected to increase gradually over the projection period, from 2.2 million in 2015 to almost 2.7 million by 2041. The share of children in the population is projected to decrease from 15.9 per cent in 2015 to 14.9 per cent by 2041. By the late 2030s, the number of children is projected to grow at a much slower pace than other age groups, reflecting the smaller number of women in their 20s and 30s.

MofF - Chart 6
Chart 6. Pace of growth of population age groups 0-14, 51-64 and 65+, 1971 to 2041.

Regional components of population changeThe main demographic determinants of regional population growth are the current age structure of the population, the pace of natural increase, and the migratory movements in and out of each of Ontario’s regions. Demographic trends vary significantly among the 49 census divisions that comprise the six geographical regions of Ontario.The current age structure of each region has a direct impact on projected regional births and deaths. A region with a higher share of its current population in older age groups will likely experience more deaths in the future than a region of comparable size with a younger population. Similarly, a region with a large share of young adults in its population is expected to see more births than a region of comparable size with an older age structure. Also, since migration rates vary by age, the age structure of a region or census division will have an impact on the migration of its population.The general aging of the population will result in a rising number of census divisions where deaths will exceed births (negative natural increase) over the projection period. Deaths exceeded births in 24 of Ontario’s 49 census divisions over the past five years. This number is projected to rise gradually so that 37 census divisions are projected to experience negative natural increase by 2040– 41. These 37 census divisions will represent 26 per cent of Ontario’s population in 2041.This declining trend in natural increase means that many census divisions in Ontario where natural increase previously was the main or even sole contributor to population growth have already started to see their population growth slow. This trend is projected to continue as the population ages further.

MofF - Chart 7
Chart 7. Evolution of natural increase by census division, 2015 to 2041.

Migration is the most important factor contributing to population growth for Ontario as a whole and for most regions. Net migration gains, whether from international sources, other parts of Canada or other regions of Ontario, are projected to continue to be the major source of population growth for almost all census divisions.

MofF - Chart 9
Chart 8. Population growth/decline by census division over 2015 to 2041.

Large urban areas, especially the GTA, which receive most of the international migration to Ontario, are projected to grow strongly. For other regions such as Central Ontario, the continuation of migration gains from other parts of the province will be a key source of growth. Some census divisions of Northern Ontario receive only a small share of international migration and have been experiencing net out-migration, mostly among youth, which reduces both current and future population growth.Table 1. Population shares of Ontario Regions, 1991 to 2041.Regional age structureAll regions see a shift to an older age structure. Regions where natural increase and net migration are projected to become or remain negative see the largest shifts in age structure.The GTA is expected to remain the region with the youngest age structure, a result of strong international migration and positive natural increase. The Northeast is projected to remain the region with the oldest age structure.

MofF - Chart 10
Chart 8. Share of seniors in population by census division in 2041.

x

MofF - Chart 11
Chart 9. Growth in number of seniors by census division, 2015 to 2041.

The number of children aged 0–14 is projected to decline in the North, but to increase in the rest of Ontario over the projection period. However, by 2041 the share of children in every region is projected to be slightly lower than it is today. In 2015, the highest share of children among regions was in the Northwest at 16.9 per cent; the Northeast had the lowest share at 14.4 per cent. By 2041, the Northeast is projected to remain the region with the lowest share of children at 13.3 per cent while the highest share is projected to be found in the Northwest at 15.5 per cent.The suburban GTA census divisions, along with Ottawa, are projected to record the highest growth in the number of children aged 0–14 over the 2015–2041 period, with Halton seeing the most growth at 49 per cent. Conversely, the majority of rural and northern census divisions are projected to have significantly fewer children by 2041, with the largest declines in the North. However, most census divisions are projected to see only a slight decrease in the share of children in their population. In 2015, the highest share of children was found in Kenora at 21.9 per cent and the lowest share in Haliburton at 9.9 per cent. By 2041, Kenora is projected to still have the highest share of children at 20.0 per cent while Haliburton is projected to continue to have the lowest at 9.1 per cent.

MofF - Chart 12
Chart 10. Growth/decline in number of children aged 0-14 by census division, 2015 to 2041.
1 2
Population (%) 1991 2001 2011 2021 2031 2041
GTA 42.0 44.5 47.2 49.3 51.1 52.7
Central 22.2 22.1 21.6 21.2 20.8 20.5
East 13.9 13.5 13.2 12.9 12.7 12.4
Southwest 13.7 13.0 12.0 11.2 10.5 9.9
Northeast 5.8 4.8 4.3 3.8 3.3 3.0
Northwest 2.4 2.1 1.8 1.6 1.5 1.3