BC Population Change, July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010
by William Warren Munroe, February 2011

Factors of Population Change

The estimates of the factors of BC population change, between July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 were released by Statistics Canada recently providing insight into social and economic activity to the Regional District (RD) level within BC.

Statistics Canada points out that BC's numbers are based on total population growth rate estimates provided by BC Stats, "based on residential electrical (Hydro) connections and Ministry of Health Client Registry data as symptomatic indicators." Unfortunately, BC Stats continues to refer readers to the 1998 methods paper. See Endnote.

BC Stats' numbers referred to in this article are subject to change when the 2011 census results become available in 2012. With this in mind, here you will find the estimates of the factors of population change, including natural changes, (births minus deaths), as well as net migration (interprovincial and intraprovincial) for BCs RDs for the year from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010.

Natural Change

Some areas in BC experienced more deaths than births, while others had far more births than deaths.

With fewer births and increasing number of deaths, the natural change was negative in some areas (blue colored regions in the map below, Figures #1 ). Not surprizingly, areas attractive to retirees, such as the South Okanagan and Nanaimo had more deaths than births; however, many of these regions received more in migrants than out migrants (see Figures #4 and #5). Areas with more births than deaths are colored pink (small positive natural increase) to red (large positive natural increase).

Figure #1: Natural Change, BC Regional Districts, 2009 to 2010, July 1, Map

The Lower Mainland had the largest positive natural change with 10,150, making up the largest portion of the ~13,300 for the province ( over 75%) .

While the map shows us where there is negative natural change, it does not provide a proper perspective of the amount of natural change, particularly since the legend has been shortened.

The legend does not include many of the intervals between 0 and 10,146 to save space and to make the included intervals large enough to read clearly. In order to provide a graphic representation of the relative proportions, here is a bar graph showing the negative to positive natural change.

Figure #2: Natural Change, BC Regional Districts, 2009 to 2010, July 1, Bar Graph

The Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) stands out for having the bulk of the province's natural increase. Is it because there are more people? Perhaps all urban areas have large positive natural change. But aren't urban areas known to have lower birth rates than rural areas?

The next most positive natural change is for the Fraser Valley RD which also has a large population. But the second most populous region is the Capital RD and it has more deaths than births. Indeed,the Capital Region had the largest negative natural change at 1,500. Also the Central Okanagan has very few more births than deaths. Therefore, size does not explain variations in natural increase, and something else is happening in the GVRD. Perhaps the international migration to the area helps explain the high natural increase. How? Some areas in the GVRD do have relatively higher birth rates.

Another way to look at the province is to take into consideration the natural change in relation to the total population of the Regional Districts. This can be done by dividing the natural increase by the total population of the Regional District, then make a map ....

Figure #3: Natural Change, relative to Total Population, BC Regional Districts, 2009 to 2010, July 1, Map

Now we see that the natural increase has less of an impact on the large population of the GVRD while it has more of an impact on the lower population areas particularly of the northeast regions.


Interestingly, the southern regions tend to have more deaths than births, but also more interprovincial (migration between BC RDs and other provinces) in-migration than out-migration.

Figure #4: Interprovincial Migration, BC Regional Districts, 2009 to 2010, July 1, Map

The only southern Regional District with both negative natural change and more interprovincial out-migration than in-migration was Kootenay Boundary. While the Capital RD had more deaths than births, it had positive net interprovincial migration.

Figure #5: Intraprovincial Migration, BC Regional Districts, 2009 to 2010, July 1, Map

During this time period, the GVRD had more people move out than in from other Regions in the province. This is not unusual as intraprovincial (migration between RDs) migration does not become positive to the GVRD until the economic activity slows for the province as a whole. The GVRD provided people to the surrounding attractive regions, including the other CMAs, namely the Capital, Central Okanagan, and Fraser Valley RDs, while the north shares the GVRDs negative net intraprovincial migration.


This brief look at the factors of population change for BCs Regional Districts from July 1 2009 to June 30, 2010, shows variations within the province. Natural increase differed between the north and the south and between the large urban centers. The North had more births than deaths while many of the southern Regional Districts had more deaths than births.

Net migration on the other hand, impacted these regions in a way opposite to Natural change. The North lost more people to other provinces while the south gained. Migration within the province saw more people leaving the GVRD and the North, than moving in, while the other CMA's received more than left.

These variations provide insight into the changing character of the regions within BC.

Sources: Annual Demographic Estimates: Subprovincial Areas, Table 3.10-3, British Columbia census divisions Population estimates and factors of growth from July to June

Note(s):With the exception of Quebec and British Columbia, preliminary estimates for July 1, 2010 are produced using the component method. The population estimates for both these provinces were created or based on the population estimates provided by their respective agencies. As a result, the sum of components does not equal the population growth for 2009/2010.



Readers should be aware that BC Stats changed the Population Estimation model many times particularly between 2001 and 2011 without informing users. Indeed, in 2002 BC Stats stopped using Old Age Security data in favour of the highly unreliable telephone landline hookup data purchased from Telus used along with electrical hookups. After my intense efforts to discontinue the use of Telus data in the regression model, Generalized Estimations System (GES), in 2008 BC Stats stopped using the telephone landline hookup data in favour of Health Registry data.

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