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Demographic projections are an important tool used by government and other organizations in planning for a wide range of services such as health care needs, education services, family services, infrastructure requirements, and a variety of other community services. Based on recent data and research, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) has updated the projections for the Registered Indian population, households and families to span the 25-year period from 2009 to 2034.
The population projection model is based on the traditional cohort-component method. 'Registered Indian' refers to persons registered under the Indian Act. The baseline population is according to the Indian Registry System as at December 31, 2009, adjusted for late- and under-reporting of births and deaths. The model includes the traditional growth components of fertility, mortality and migration. It also includes non-traditional factors of growth specific to this population brought about through the 1985 and 2010 amendments to the Indian Act. [Note 1] These include reinstatement of status and newly entitled registrations as well as male fertility and exogamous parenting (i.e. parenting between a Registered Indian and non-registered individual) as they relate to the Indian Act status inheritance provisions and children's entitlement to registration. The projections also account for the creation of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation in Newfoundland in 2011.
Three projections scenarios were developed and reflect slow, medium and rapid growth possibilities of future demographic trends. The majority of the results highlighted in this analysis are according to the medium growth scenario, which is most consistent with recent trends and is based on the following assumptions:
In addition to the Registered Indian population, projections around growth of the non-registered descendant and non-registered non-descendant populations are also available. This is particularly significant as the composition of the on-reserve population will potentially change over time. [Note 2]
It is important to note that these projections are based on 2009 Indian Register data and the underlying assumptions are based on information available at the time of development. These projections are subject to revision as new information becomes available.
Under the medium growth scenario, the Registered Indian population could increase by 43%, from 840,300 in 2009 to 1,202,000 in 2034. Depending on the projection scenario, the Registered Indian population could be as low as 1,148,000 or as high as 1,229,100 by 2034 (increases of 37% and 46%, respectively).
Higher growth is estimated to occur on reserve than off reserve. The on-reserve Registered Indian population could grow by 45% under the medium growth scenario, from 463,400 in 2009 to 672,900 in 2034 (Figure 1).
Lower Registered Indian population growth off reserve is attributed to lower fertility rates and higher rates of exogamous parenting; however, it is still estimated to be significant. Between 2009 and 2034, the off-reserve population is estimated to grow by 40% under the medium growth scenario, from 377,000 to 529,200.
Figure 1 - Projected Registered Indian Population (in Thousands) by Residency, Canada, 2009-2034 (Medium Growth Scenario)
The highest average annual growth is estimated to occur during the first five years of the projection period and especially off reserve (Table 1). Specifically, average annual growth is estimated at 2.1% on reserve and 4.5% off reserve. These higher rates reflect newly entitled registrations associated with the 2010 Indian Act amendments through the Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act and also the creation of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation in Newfoundland in 2011. [Note 3]
Over the remainder of the projection, average annual growth of the Registered Indian population is estimated to decline due to decreasing fertility rates, decreasing status reinstatements and newly entitled registrations, and increasing numbers of non-registered descendants. By 2029-2034, average annual growth of the Registered Indian population is projected to decline to 1.0% on reserve and 0.5% off reserve. However, the on-reserve Registered Indian population could still be growing at a faster rate than the general Canadian population, according to the medium growth scenario.
(Including Crown Land)
|Off Reserve||Total||Canadian Population *|
|* Statistics Canada, Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories 2009–2036 (Medium Growth Scenario M1), Catalogue no. 91-520-X.|
Regional variances in fertility rates, exogamous parenting rates, migration, and new population additions through the 2010 amendments to the Indian Act contribute to regional on- and off-reserve differences in projected Registered Indian population growth. Between 2009 and 2034, Registered Indian population growth is estimated to be positive in all regions, both on and off reserve. The most significant growth is estimated to occur in the Atlantic region with the total Registered Indian population estimated to more than double from 35,100 in 2009 to 94,200 in 2034. Most of this growth occurs among the off-reserve population and is associated with the creation of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation (Figure 2).
Population growth is also estimated to be significant in the Prairie Provinces which are home to almost half of the Registered Indian population. Saskatchewan is projected to have the highest on-reserve Registered Indian population growth (59% increase) while Alberta is projected to have the highest off-reserve Registered Indian population growth (57% increase). By 2034, however, Ontario could continue to have the largest Registered Indian population across all provinces and territories at over 230,000.
Figure 2 - Projected Registered Indian Population by Residency* and Region, 2009 and 2034 (Medium Growth Scenario)
The Registered Indian population is young, with an estimated median age of 24 years on reserve and 30 years off reserve in 2009. In comparison, median age of the Canadian population is estimated to be 40 years in 2009 (Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-520-X).
The Registered Indian population could age somewhat over the next couple of decades, attributed to declining fertility rates, modest improvements in life expectancy, and increasing numbers of non-registered descendants (Figure 3). By 2034, median age of the Registered Indian population is estimated to rise to 33 years on reserve and 37 years off reserve. However, both the on- and off-reserve Registered Indian populations are still considerably more youthful than the general Canadian population, with median age projected to be 43 years in 2034 (Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 91-520-X).
Regionally, the Registered Indian population is most youthful in the Prairies during the entire projection period (Table 2).
Figure 3 - Age-Gender Pyramid for the Registered Indian and Total Canadian Populations, Canada, 2009 and 2034 (Medium Growth Scenario)
|Median Age refers to the age at which one half of the population is older and the other half is younger.|
|ATL.||28 years||34 years|
|QUE.||31 years||37 years|
|ONT.||32 years||41 years|
|MAN.||23 years||30 years|
|SASK.||22 years||31 years|
|ALTA.||23 years||31 years|
|B.C.||30 years||38 years|
|YUK.||34 years||42 years|
|N.W.T.||27 years||37 years|
|CANADA||27 years||35 years|
Between 2009 and 2034, it is projected that, on average, almost 18,000 Registered Indians will turn 15 years old each year, coming of age to enter the labour force population (over 10,000 on reserve and 7,000 off reserve). During the overall projection, this amounts to over 450,000 Registered Indians that could enter the labour force.
Figure 4 illustrates that the overall size of the Registered Indian population of working age (i.e. 15-64 years) is estimated to increase from 545,700 in 2009 to 793,500 in 2034 (45% increase) with higher growth on reserve (52%) compared to off reserve (37%).
Figure 4 - Projected Registered Indian Population Aged 15—64 (in Thousands) by Residency, Canada, 2009 to 2034 (Medium Growth Scenario)
Regionally, the Registered Indian working-age population could almost triple in the Atlantic region over the projection period, as a result of the additions to the population in this region associated with the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation (Table 3). Given the observed and projected youthful age structure in the Prairies, it is not surprising that Registered Indian working-age population growth is also projected to be high in these regions with 65% growth in Alberta, 61% growth in Saskatchewan, and 57% growth in Manitoba. However, in terms of the estimated population size, Ontario is projected to continue to have the largest number of Registered Indian working-age individuals (151,600 in 2034).
|On Reserve (including Crown Land)*||Off Reserve|
|* In Yukon and the Northwest Territories, the majority of individuals defined as residing 'on reserve (including crown lands)' reside on crown lands, according to the Indian Registry System|
Increases are projected to occur over time in the number of children born to Registered Indians who will not be entitled to registration. The majority of these individuals reside off reserve, increasing from 122,800 in 2009 to 196,700 in 2034 (by 60%). However, growth is estimated to occur more rapidly on reserve, rising from 7,100 in 2009 to 92,500 by 2034 (13-fold increase), based on the medium growth scenario.
The Registered Indian share of the total on-reserve population is estimated to decrease by 11 percentage points between 2009 and 2034, almost all of which is associated with a corresponding increase in the non-registered descendant share (Figure 5).
Figure 5 - Projected Composition of the On-Reserve Population, Canada, 2009 and 2034 (Medium Growth Scenario)
As a result of rapid non-registered population growth on reserve, the potential labour force population living on reserve could include an increasing proportion of non-registered individuals. The total working-age population (i.e. 15-64 years) living on reserve, including Registered Indians, non-registered descendants and non-registered non-descendants, is estimated to number 326,500 in 2009, of which about 10% are non-registered individuals. According to the medium growth scenario, the working-age on-reserve total population could number 544,600 in 2034 (67% increase) and the proportion accounted for by all non-registered individuals could be 18%, almost double the proportion in 2009 (Figure 6).
Figure 6 - Projected On-Reserve Populations Aged 15–64 Years (in Thousands), Canada, 2009–2034 (Medium Growth Scenario)
The number of Registered Indian households could increase from 315,800 in 2009 to 503,600 in 2034 (59% increase), based on the medium growth scenario. The slow and rapid growth scenarios suggest that the number of Registered Indian households could be as low as 482,800 or as high as 524,400 by 2034.
While the number of Registered Indian households is consistently higher off reserve, higher growth is projected to occur on reserve (Figure 7). Regionally, household growth is projected to occur most rapidly in the Atlantic region, associated with the creation of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation, and in the Prairies, consistent with high population growth in those regions.
Figure 7 - Projected Registered Indian Households (in Thousands) by Residency, Canada, 2009–2034 (Medium Growth Scenario)
The number of Registered Indian families is estimated to grow from 266,500 in 2009 to 428,500 in 2034 (61% increase), based on medium growth assumptions. Depending on the scenario, the number of families could range from a low of 402,300 to a high of 454,600 by 2034.
If recent trends continue, the number of lone-parent families on reserve could increase by 89%, almost doubling from 45,800 in 2009 to 86,300 in 2034. Off reserve, the number of lone-parent families is projected to increase by 73%, from 40,400 in 2009 to 70,000 in 2034. According to recent data, the majority of lone-parent families are headed by a female (about 74% on reserve and 85% off reserve).
(including Crown Land)
|Year||Two Parents||Lone Parent||Total Families||Two Parents||Lone Parent||Total Families||Two Parents||Lone Parent||Total Families|
|* Counts are expressed in thousands and rounded to the nearest tenth. However, percentage growth is calculated using unrounded data.|
For more information on the Registered Indian Population, Household and Family Projections 2009-2034, call AANDC's Public Enquiries Contact Centre at 1-800-567-9604.