EDMONTON - Immigrants and temporary foreign workers helped Alberta post the strongest population growth among Canada's provinces in the first three months of 2008, Statistics Canada reported today.
"Alberta's population rose by 0.41 per cent over the January to March period to reach an estimated 3,512,400, mainly as a result of strong immigration and net inflows of non-permanent residents," the federal agency said in a news release.
"Alberta received 5,300 immigrants and posted a net increase of 4,000 non-permanent residents, both first quarter records."
In total, the province grew by 14,487 people.
Todd Hirsch, senior economist for ATB Financial, said in his daily commentary that Alberta's "weak spot" is inter-provincial migration.
"Over the first quarter, an estimated 713 people moved to Alberta from other provinces (on a net migration basis). That number is relatively small, but at least it reverses a troubling trend that was brewing over the past few quarters in 2007 when the high costs of living and an overheated real estate market was causing Alberta to lose people to other provinces," Hirsch said.
Saskatchewan, the growth leader for the previous two quarters, had the second-highest growth rate in Canada at 0.35 per cent, bringing its population to 1,010,100, Statistics Canada said.
"It was the highest first quarter increase for Saskatchewan in decades, mainly as a result of record numbers in immigration, interprovincial migration and in non-permanent resident net inflows."
Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia were the only provinces where the growth rate exceeded the national average of 0.24 per cent. Canada's population on April 1 was an estimated 33,223,800, up 80,200 from Jan. 1, 2008.