Ottawa boasts a population of 870,250, which represents an increase of 7.9% since 2001. This growth rate is faster than Ontario's rate (6.2%) and Canada's rate as a whole (4.8%). Ottawa accounts for approximately two-thirds of the population of the greater Ottawa-Gatineau area, which has a combined total population of 1,282,500.

  The population
is growing

The population growth is expected to continue. The City's 2003 Official Plan predicted growth of 37% over the next 15 years. Recent growth trends have been somewhat slower than originally predicted, and this estimate may be revised in 2007. Even with the revision, it is clear that actual growth rates remain above average. Immigration is a major reason Ottawa's population continues to grow faster than that of Ontario or Canada.

Projected population and employment growth, Ottawa, 2001-2021

Projected population and employment growth

While Ottawa residents are slightly younger than the provincial average (11.5% aged 65 and over in Ottawa versus 12.9% aged 65 and over for the province), a significant demographic shift is occurring in Ottawa as the population ages, which is also part of a national demographic change.

The population
is aging

The proportion of children in Ottawa has been dropping since the 1960s. Children below the age of 19 made up 40% of the city's population in 1966. Today, that age group represents approximately 25% of the population. Their share will drop even more to approximately 20% of the total population in 2021. In fact, every age group below age 55 will see a decline in its share of the overall population by 2021.

While the proportion of young adults (aged 20-34) was as high as 29% in the mid-1980s, it is now approximately 22%. This age group will increase its share of Ottawa's population between 2001 and 2016, reflecting the passage into adulthood of baby-boomers' children (baby-boom echo). By 2021, young adults will account for less than 20% of city residents.

Mature adults (aged 35-64) made up approximately 32% of the population in the mid-1960s. They now account for 41%, and their share will rise to 43% by 2021.

Seniors (aged 65 and over) represented approximately 7% of Ottawa's population in the 1960s. Their share has steadily risen to reach 11.5% as of the 2001 Census, and is predicted to represent just over 16% of Ottawa's population in 2021.

Changes in demographics influence the mix of City services provided to Ottawa residents.

Projected population by age group, Ottawa, 2001-2021

Projected population by age group


  • Ottawa has Canada's third-largest West Indian community, and the second-fastest growing after Toronto. As of 2001, there were 11,000 people of West Indian origin living here.

  • We have Canada's fourth-largest African community, and the second-fastest growing after Calgary. As of 2001, there were 19,000 people of African origin living here.

  • Our Chinese community is the smallest of Canada's five largest centres (17,500 people), but it was the country's fastest-growing (65%) between 1996 and 2001.

  • Our Middle Eastern community is Canada's fourth-largest, with 22,000 people.

  • Our European community is the smallest of Canada's five largest cities, but it grew by 2% between 1996 and 2001. Calgary had the only other growing European community among the top five cities. In Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver, the European-born population shrank over the same five years.
is growing

Ottawa is becoming a significant point of entry into Canada for immigrants from around the world. Statistics Canada data show that immigrants to Canada tend to settle mainly in big cities. Immigrants who settle in Ottawa are attracted by high-paying professional jobs or post-secondary studies. They are typically more educated, earn higher wages, and have higher levels of employment than immigrants who settle in other cities. Ottawa also receives the highest percentage of refugees and family-related immigration of any major Canadian centre.

Between 1996 and 2001, Ottawa welcomed almost 25,000 immigrants from around the world. Recent immigrants - those who settled here in the past 10 years - make up 6.8% of the population, up from 4.2% in 1981. There are 70,500 recent immigrants now living here, representing the fourth highest concentration in the country.

Overall, 185,000 people born outside Canada reside in Ottawa. They make up almost 18%
of our metropolitan population. While Toronto and Vancouver receive the most immigrants among the nation's big cities, Ottawa's immigrant population had the third highest growth
rate (14.7%) between 1996 and 2001, tied with Toronto and trailing Vancouver (16.5%)
and Calgary (15.5%).

Total Ottawa-Gatineau immigrants, by place of birth, 2001

Total Ottawa-Gatineau immigrants, by place of birth, 2001

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