By Globe and Mail |

Canada became more urban in 2019 as its census metropolitan areas or CMAs grew by close to triple the rate as the rest of the country, with temporary and permanent immigrants accounting for nearly all of the 463,000 people who joined the largest cities.

The CMAs grew 1.7 per cent over the 12-month period ending mid-2019, versus 0.6-per-cent growth for the non-CMA population, according to estimates published Thursday by Statistics Canada. Ontario was home to the fastest-growing CMAs, paced by Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo (2.8 per cent), London (2.3 per cent) and the Ontario part of Ottawa-Gatineau (2.3 per cent).

But the country’s largest CMAs – Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver – continue to see a net loss of people within their respective provinces, raising concerns about deteriorating affordability in Canada’s major centres, along with escalating suburban sprawl.

“I can summarize [the trend] in one phrase: Drive until you qualify,” said Mike Moffatt, an economist at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School who has written extensively on population changes in his home province. “Young families are looking for housing, and they’re going as far afield as they need to in order to afford that.”

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