Saint John’s Challenge: Population Decline
Population growth has been the single biggest challenge plaguing Saint John for over 40 years. Since 1971 we’ve lost nearly 25% of our population and in 2016 we were the only CMA in Canada to record a population decline.
Why is this happening?
- In 2015 Saint John’s death rate overtook its birth rate, making it one of the first places in Canada to experience a natural population decline.
- New Brunswick was the only province in Canada to record a population loss in the 2016 Census, which means population growth is a province-wide imperative and growth is not likely to come through intra-provincial migration.
- Saint John has reported a net interprovincial decrease in each year of this new century – but there is some hope in the data. Between 2014 and 2016 Saint John’s net interprovincial migration losses began to shrink, from a loss of 1,017 people in 2014 to a loss of 661 people in 2016.
The good news:
- International migration rose year-over-year with a net gain of 473 people in 2014 to a significant jump of 1,319 people in 2016 courtesy of Saint John residents’ strong community-led sponsorship of Syrian refugees.
What does population decline mean for the citizens of Saint John?
- Reduced services within our city, or
- Increased taxes to sustain the existing services
- Shrinking labour force = slower economic growth and fewer jobs