Regional Overview

Western Canada's Population

Western Canada's Population

11.1 million (2016)
31.6% of Canada’s Population

 
 
  • Fastest-growing region in Canada, with population rising 8% since 2011.
  • Home to a young and diverse population, including 55% of Canada's Indigenous Peoples.
  • Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have the lowest provincial median ages.
  • Calgary, Edmonton, and Saskatoon are Canada's fastest-growing major centers.
  • 18% of western Canadians live in rural areas, a share that continues to decline due to urbanization and lower immigration levels outside of cities

 

Resources

Population size and growth in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census (Statistics Canada)
Population projections: Canada, the provinces and territories, 2013 to 2063 (Statistics Canada)

 

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples in the west

First Nations, Inuit and Métis in the West

927,550 (2016)
55.4% of Canada's Indigenous Population

 
 
  • A diverse population with unique needs, made up of 59.8% First Nations, 37.8% Métis and 0.6% Inuit.
  • One of the fastest growing demographics in the west, population has increased by 32.6% since 2006.
  • A young population, 47% of Indigenous Peoples in the west are under the age of 25 years.
  • The Indigenous population is increasingly urban. Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver have some of the largest Indigenous populations among all census metropolitan areas.

 

Resources

Aboriginal peoples in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census, Statistics Canada
The Long and Winding Road Towards Aboriginal Economic Prosperity,TD Economics

 

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

$651 billion (2017)
37.6% of the national total

 
 
  • Fastest growing provincial economies in Canada accounting for 46% of national growth over the last decade.
  • The west is expected to continue to lead economic growth, but at a slower pace.

 

Resources

The Path to Prosperity: Resetting Canada's Growth Trajectory (Advisory Council on Economic Growth)
Weaker Economic Growth Forecast for All Provinces in 2018 (Conference Board of Canada)

 

Labour market

Labour market

6 million workers (2017)
6.3% unemployment rate (up from 4.0% in 2007)

 
 
  • The west accounted for 41% of net jobs created across the country over the last decade.
  • Alberta and Saskatchewan's labour markets are still recovering from commodity shocks.
  • The unemployment rate for Indigenous Peoples is double the regional average and participation rates for youth have declined.

 

Resources

Western Canada's Labour Market: Trends, Opportunities, and Future Skills (Western Economic Diversification Canada)
Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (Employment and Social Development Canada)
Risk and Readiness: The Impact of Automation on Provincial Labour Markets (C.D. Howe Institute)

 

Trade

Trade

$186.6 billion in merchandise exports (2017)
37.2% of national total

 
 
  • Top three export destinations: US (72%), China (8%), and Japan (4%).
  • Top five export industries: Oil and Gas (41%), Agriculture (11%), Mining (8%), Food (7%), Chemical Manufacturing (6%).
  • More diversified markets and types of exports will create new opportunities for the west.

 

Resources

Western Canada's Rapidly Expanding Inland Ports (Van Horne Institute)
Positioning Canada as a Global Training Hub (Advisory Council on Economic Growth)
Sprouted: The plant ingredient opportunity taking root on the Prairies (Canada West Foundation)

 

Natural resources

Natural resources

$122 billion in real GDP (2017)

 
 
  • Natural resource production across Western Canada is diverse, and includes oil and gas, renewable power, minerals and metals, and forest products.
  • The natural resource sector is a source of 370,752 direct jobs in the region. (2017)
  • Oil, potash, and other commodity prices are recovering, but they remain well below 2014 levels.
  • $80B in energy, mining, forestry, and other resource sector products exported in 2017 (down 27% from 2014).
  • Natural resource projects provide jobs and economic opportunities to many rural and remote communities, including for Indigenous Peoples. In 2016, natural resources sectors employed more than 37,000 Indigenous workers.
  • Western Canada's resource industries are working to increase efficiencies and reduce environmental impacts, and clean technologies developed here are creating new economic opportunities.
  • In 2017, total world-wide investment in clean technologies reached US$1 trillion. By 2020, the total is expected to surpass US$2.5 trillion. Canada's share of the global clean tech market is estimated at 1.5%.

Resources

Forging Partnership, Building Relationships: Aboriginal Canadians and Energy Development (Natural Resources Canada)
A Vision for Canada's Forests: 2018 and Beyond (Canadian Council of Forest Ministers)
Generation Energy Council Report(Generation Energy Council)
Let's Talk Clean Resources: Final Report (Natural Resources Canada)
Resources of the Future – Interim Report (Resources of the Future Economic Strategy Table)
A Vision for Canada's Forests: 2018 and Beyond (Canadian Council of Forest Ministers)
The Western Regional Electricity Cooperation and Strategic Infrastructure (RECSI) dialogue and study examine future changes to the regional electrical grid (Natural Resources Canada)

 

SMEs and entrepreneurship

SMEs and entrepreneurship

427,000 active small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) with employees (2017)

 
 
  • Western Canadian SMEs employed 3.4M people in 2015, accounting for 92% of private sector employees.
  • Only 14% of SMEs are majority-owned by women.
  • Nearly 17% of workers are self-employed in western Canada, compared to 14% nationally.
  • Self-employment is twice as common for western Canadians living in rural areas, compared to urban communities.
  • The west attracted $609M of Venture Capital in 2016, well below Ontario ($1.4B) and Quebec ($1.1B).

 

Resources

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Research and Statistics (Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada)
Canada's Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada)
Promise and Prosperity: The 2016 Aboriginal Business Survey (Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business)
An Entrepreneurial Approach to Job Creation in Rural Canada (Community Futures Network of Canada)
Start 'Em Up: Incubating nextgen innovators (Canada West Foundation)
The State of Venture Capital in Western Canada (Western Economic Diversification Canada)