A closer look at the census released last week by Statistics Canada is raising more questions about the local population numbers than it's answering.
Moose Jaw's population only grew by 616 people between 2011 and 2016 or 1.9%, taking us to 33,890 residents. Meanwhile, communities in the area saw substantial growth, like Briercrest that saw a 43% increase in their population and Rouleau with a 19% increase. The national average for population growth was 5% and the provincial average was over 6%, making many people wonder why our community didn't see a larger increase in residents.
Adding to the story is the fact that we saw an a substantial increase in refugees and immigrants, so with that in mind did we actually lose people? Stats Canada Senior Analyst Andre Lebel says it's possible.
"What we have seen in the recent period is that if between 2006 and 2011, you were gaining people from other provinces in terms of migration, you went back to a place where you're losing people now."
Where were the people going? Back to Alberta according to Lebel who said the province, as a whole, saw a similar shift in the population as residents follow the work. But the numbers don't show it because we were welcoming so many immigrants during the same time.
For example, the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council is reporting that they helped at least 700 new clients in 2016 alone and called it a good representation of the last several years, suggesting thousands of new people could have passed through the Friendly City.