Manitoba's youthful population can play a critical role in helping the province become an economic growth leader in Canada

OTTAWA, Jan. 25, 2017 /CNW/ - Manitoba could be an economic growth leader in Canada if it can mobilize and engage more of the province's substantial youthful population into the workforce, particularly its Indigenous citizens, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report.

The report, Maximizing Manitoba's Potential, identifies trends that could help position Manitoba's economy for a high growth future. One factor influencing Manitoba's demographic outlook is the strong representation of Indigenous persons in the province's population. Outside of the Canadian territories, Manitoba is the province with the largest share of population of Indigenous Canadians. By 2036, Manitoba's Indigenous population is forecast to reach between 273,000 and 335,000 people, with growth in this group accounting for between 0.2 and 0.4 percentage points of the province's total annual growth per year.

"Manitoba's Indigenous population represents a unique demographic advantage for the province," said Marie-Christine Bernard, Associate Director, Provincial Forecast. "Indigenous peoples are traditionally younger than the average population. A younger population, with appropriate public policy in place to promote labour force participation, could result in stronger economic growth for Manitoba relative to the other provinces in the long term."

Highlights

  • Increasing workforce participation of Manitoba's Indigenous population will be critical to the province's economic future.
  • Manitoba's economic growth prospects will overtake that of neighbouring provinces starting in 2032, thanks in part to the province's younger population.
  • The influx of international immigrants and rural-urban migration are also important factors that will shape the province's economy.

Because Manitoba's Indigenous people are under-represented in labour markets, mobilizing them in the labour force will be critical to securing sustained economic growth for the province. The labour force participation rate among Indigenous persons in Manitoba is 65.5 per cent, nearly three percentage points lower than that of the total population. Likewise, the Indigenous employment rate (59.4 per cent) is 5.6 percentage points lower than the total for the province.

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples are younger and have higher fertility rates compared to the non-Indigenous population. As a result, Manitoba's population is forecast to remain considerably younger than that of Canada as a whole, where seniors will account for one-quarter of the total population by 2040. According to The Conference Board of Canada's long-term provincial economic outlook, growth potential in Manitoba will overtake that of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia starting in 2032, thanks in part to the province's younger population.

The influx of international immigrants and the rural-urban movement of population to Winnipeg are also important demographic trends shaping the province's economy. Net international immigration has been a critical driver of population growth in Manitoba, and to a greater degree than for other Western Canadian provinces. Between 2005 and 2015, Manitoba received 142,000 net new international immigrants, or an average of 12,900 new Manitobans per year. The province will continue to rely heavily on immigration to support growth in the working-age population.

Manitoba is the only province in Canada where more than half of the population resides in one single metropolitan area (Winnipeg). Over the last 25 years, Winnipeg has accounted for 65 per cent of the growth in Manitoba's population, while its share of the provincial population has averaged just shy of 61 per cent. Winnipeg is an affordable jurisdiction for both households and businesses, boasting a low cost of living and business costs that are competitive with those in major North American cities. This will make Winnipeg an attractive destination for migrants throughout the forecast period.

Published as a pilot project under the proposed Conference Board's Manitoba Institute, this cornerstone report examines the province's demographic change and the implications for public and economic policy planning. It also provides suggestions for future research opportunities that would optimize Manitoba's prosperity.

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SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

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For further information: Yvonne Squires, Media Relations, The Conference Board of Canada, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 221, E-mail: corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca; or Juline Ranger, Director of Communications, The Conference Board of Canada, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 431, E-mail: corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca

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