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B.C. the only province in Western Canada with more people moving in than out: census data

The population of British Columbia is higher than five million for the first time ever, possibly in part due to the number of people moving in from elsewhere in Canada.

Data from the federal 2021 Census put the province's population at 5,000,879 – a record high for B.C. Interestingly, an estimate from provincial officials suggests the province's population is 5,166,649. CTV News has reached out to Statistics Canada for more information on the discrepancy.

According to StatCan, B.C. was the only province in Western Canada to see a population growth higher than the national average, rates of 7.6 and 5.2 per cent, respectively.

And B.C. was also the only province in Western Canada to see more people move in from elsewhere in the country than move out. Data compiled between 2016 and 2021 suggested interprovincial migration gains of 97,424 people, the highest levels seen in B.C. since the 1990s.

The other western provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, saw more people move out than move in. Statistics Canada suggests a "backdrop of lower oil prices… and higher unemployment" may be partially to blame for that, especially in Alberta.

But the data suggests interprovincial migration wasn't the biggest driver of B.C.'s increasing population. Similar to what was noted in Canada as a whole, immigration was the main source of the increase.

"However, international migration levels have changed little in Western Canada since the last intercensal period, unlike in most other provinces, where they rose significantly prior to the pandemic," a summary from Statistics Canada said.

"This partially explains why Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta no longer lead the provinces in population growth."

Other population data included in Wednesday's release of information is that B.C. has population density of 5.4 people per square kilometre, and that communities with the most growth were Langford, Squamish and Lake Country.

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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