Alberta's rate of population growth led the country to start 2024 — even before $5K 'moving bonus'

People get on and off the CTrain at a station in downtown Calgary in this file photo from May 2024. (Ose Irete/CBC - image credit)

Alberta had the fastest rate of population growth in Canada over the first three months of the year, according to new data released Wednesday, and continues to be the most popular destination for people moving within the country.

Statistics Canada estimates Alberta's population reached 4,849,906 as of April 1, up from 4,800,768 on Jan. 1.

That marks a 1.02-per-cent increase in the span of just three months, which was the largest of any province or territory.

Nationally, the population grew by 0.6 per cent over that same time and is now estimated at just over 41 million people.

A large chunk of Alberta's growth was due to interprovincial migration — meaning more people were moving to Alberta from other parts of the country than were leaving Alberta for other provinces and territories.

"Most provinces and territories had net losses in their exchanges with other provinces or territories in the first quarter of 2024, except for Alberta (+12,482), New Brunswick (+1,627) and Yukon (+60)," Statistics Canada said in a release.

"This was the 11th straight quarter of net gains for Alberta, following losses in 19 out of 24 quarters from the third quarter of 2015 to the second quarter of 2021."

Once again, most of the interprovincial migrants came from Ontario and British Columbia.

Statistics Canada estimates that 9,398 Ontarians moved to Alberta last year, versus 3,893 Albertans who moved to Ontario, for a net gain of 5,505 people.

An estimated 9,218 British Columbians moved to Alberta, compared to 5,744 Albertans who moved to B.C., for a net gain of 3,474.

These gains predate the "Alberta is Calling: Moving Bonus," which the provincial government announced in March but didn't take effect until May 1.

The policy offers a $5,000 refundable tax credit for up to 2,000 people, provided they work in particular skilled trades the province has specified. The credits will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.

All told, interprovincial migration accounted for 25 per cent of Alberta's population growth over the first three months of the year.

An even bigger component was international migration — both on a temporary and permanent basis — which accounted for the majority of the province's population gains.

Non-permanent residents from other countries accounted for 39 per cent of the growth from January to March, while permanent immigration accounted for 28 per cent.

Natural increase — more births than deaths — accounted for eight per cent.