Alberta’s population could increase to more than 3 million people in the next 25 years, recent projections released by the provincial government suggest.
The government of Alberta develops population projections to show how the province may change over a given period of time. The estimates for 2021-2046 were publicly released on 2 July.
The province created three growth scenarios – low, medium and high – to project the population growth of males and females from newborns to those at least 90 years old. The estimates are based on 2016 census data. The 2021 census data will be released next February.
“The projected growth will be less than the 1.9 percent experienced in the last 25-year period (1995 to 2020), due to population aging and slow growth in migration,” said a report about the projections.
Alberta currently has over 4.4 million people, Quarterly Estimates from Statistics Canada Display. In Alberta’s low-growth scenario, the population is expected to increase by about 1.2 million to over 5.6 million by 2046.
The medium-growth outlook suggests that the population will increase from about two million to about 6.4 million.
The high growth scenario suggests that the population will increase by more than three million to about 7.5 million.
Migrating people to Alberta will drive growth
The scenarios presented suggest that there could be 9,600 to 50,200 more men than women living in Alberta in 2046, and that migration – mainly those coming from other countries – will drive growth.
The medium-growth outlook suggests that migration will account for 69 percent of population inflation.
However, migration depends on “many factors,” including how Alberta’s economy is doing relative to other provinces, the report says.
The report said Alberta was already recovering from a recession in 2015, when the COVID-19 pandemic and plummeting oil prices “sent the economy into an unprecedented contraction in 2020.”
Travel restrictions enforced during the pandemic have also hindered immigration. However, as vaccination rates rise in Canada and globally, immigration should increase in the coming years, the report said.
Increased immigration targets by the federal government should also help, it adds.
Albertans will grow old, live longer by 2046
Growth scenarios predict that Alberta’s population will age and live longer over the next 25 years.
There are currently estimated to be more than 638,000 people aged 65 years or older living in Alberta. Each growth scenario predicts that the demographic will nearly double by 2046, as baby boomers get older and Gen-Xers retire.
Under the medium-growth scenario, one in five Albertans will be seniors by 2046.
The average Albertan is expected to be 41.5 years old in 2046 – a nearly three-year increase from the aging boomers.
The life expectancy of men and women is also expected to increase by several years. The average Alberta girl born in 2020 is expected to live 83.9 years; A boy 79.2 years.
Over the next quarter century, women are expected to live to 87 years, while men are expected to reach 83.7 years of age.
Seniors are also expected to live almost two years longer in 2046 than they do now.
An aging population and increased life expectancy will lead to a heavy reliance on working-age Albertans – a demographic expected to decline slightly by 2046 – and health care facilities.
The natural growth of Alberta’s population – births versus deaths – will also have less effect on population growth over time, as the number of people dying is expected to eventually exceed the number of newborns.