toronto population 2020

Toronto saw record-high population loss in 2020

It's no secret that the pandemic has pushed many Canadians out of urban centres in favour of relocating to smaller, more affordable communities with more space, and a new Statistics Canada report confirms that the phenomenon resulted in record-high population loss for Toronto in 2020.

According to the report on Canada's population estimates published Thursday, Toronto saw a record loss of 50,375 people between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020 as a result of more people moving out of the city to other regions rather than moving in. 

"More people are opting to live outside of Canada's largest urban centres, which is contributing to ongoing urban sprawl," reads the report, which reveals that similar trends were observed in Montreal. 

The report suggests that Toronto actually still saw overall positive population growth during that time, mostly due to international migration, but the net loss in the city was mainly driven by people moving to surrounding census metropolitan areas (CMA).

This is reflected in areas such as Oshawa, where the significant population growth (+2.1 per cent) was partly due to migration flows from the neighbouring CMA of Toronto.

And in the GTA overall, the fastest growing municipalities were suburban areas, with Milton (+4.0 per cent) and Brampton (+3.4 per cent) growing at the fastest pace among those within the Toronto CMA (+1.4 per cent.)

"The desire to live outside the largest urban centres was also reflected in the rapidly increasing housing costs in neighbouring real estate markets, a trend that has continued in spite of the pandemic," notes the report. 

"Personal health, the ability to work remotely, and higher housing costs are among the most important factors contributing to the decision of many Canadians to continue (or to no longer continue) living in large urban centres hardest hit by the pandemic. Whatever the exact reasons, urban sprawl is an important trend to monitor."

Overall in Canada, despite lower international migration due to travel restrictions, international migration accounted for the vast majority (90.3 per cent) of the growth in CMAs, while it accounted for just over one-third of the population growth in other regions of the country.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Derelict military aircraft are sitting in a field just outside Toronto

Strangers helped a Toronto woman fix an old ripped photo of her dad as a teen

Toronto woman creates 3,000 self-care boxes for vulnerable women

Toronto mechanic makes a cart for a dog with amputated front legs

Humber Bay Park in Toronto spans two kilometres of the city's shoreline

Man recognizes himself in old photo of Children's Village at Ontario Place

Toronto LifeLabs location comes under fire for xenophobic sign

Buy nothing groups in Toronto are bringing neighbours together during the pandemic