10 Largest Cities in Ontario: Population Growth and Opportunities

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The largest cities in Ontario continue to grow as more immigrants arrive in the province as a settlement choice to start their new life in Canada. In 2022, Ontario had a population of 15,109,416.

In the second quarter of 2022, there was a rise of 2.3% in the number of births, totaling 36,821 compared to the same period in 2021. Simultaneously, the number of deaths increased by 2.3%, reaching 29,155. As a result, the natural increase, calculated by subtracting the number of deaths from the number of births, was 7,666 in the quarter. This was a slight increase from the 7,468 recorded during the same quarter of 2021.

Ontario has 52 cities. Its population is projected to increase by 35.8%, or almost 5.3 million, over the next 26 years, from an estimated 14.7 million on July 1, 2020, to over 20.0 million by July 1, 2046.

According to Statistics Canada, Ontario was home to the fastest-growing census metropolitan areas, with Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo (+2.8%) leading the way, followed by London and the Ontario part of Ottawa–Gatineau (+2.3% each). The arrival of considerable permanent and temporary immigrants played a key role in their growth.

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The ten largest cities in Ontario

Toronto (2.732 million)

Like the rest of Canada, Greater Toronto has experienced rapid growth in its population. According to the latest estimates, the Toronto CMA will have 6.69 million residents in 2022, an increase of 2.1% (+138,240) from last year. This growth was accounted for by approximately half (49.5%) in the City of Toronto, which would have been a remarkable achievement.

The city is one of the most diverse in the world, with 49% of its residents born outside of Canada.

Toronto leads among the largest cities in Ontario
Toronto leads among the largest cities in Ontario

Ottawa (934,340)

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada and its fourth-largest city.  Ottawa is ranked as the second-highest quality of living of any large city in the Americas and the 14th-highest globally.

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Mississauga (721,600)

Initially planned as a suburb of Toronto, Mississauga has grown to become a different city. Canada’s busiest airport is found in the city, and it’s also home to large corporate headquarters in Canada for companies such as Walmart, Target, Microsoft, and General Electric.

Brampton (593,635)

Brampton’s name was taken from the town of Brampton in Cumbria, England. It is home to major economic sectors such as manufacturing, retail, logistics, information and communication technologies, food and beverage, life sciences, and business services.

Hamilton (536,915)

Hamilton has become the center of a densely populated and industrialized region at the west end of Lake Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. It is also a famous film location and earns nicknames The Hammer, Steeltown, and Ambitious City.

Diverse population in the largest cities in Ontario
The diverse population in the largest cities in Ontario

London (383,825)

Located halfway between Toronto, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan, London is Canada’s 15th-largest municipality. It also earns a reputation as a center of international education home to Fanshawe College and the University of Western Ontario.

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Markham (328,965)

Markham is the fourth-largest community within the Greater Toronto Area after Toronto, Mississauga, and Brampton. Markham changed its status from town to city on July 1, 2012.

Vaughan (306,230)

Vaughan was the fastest-growing municipality in Canada between 1996–2006, achieving a population growth rate of 80.2% according to Statistics Canada, having nearly doubled in population since 1991.

Windsor (217,185)

Kitchener is the largest city within the Grand River watershed and on the Haldimand Tract. According to the 2006 Census, most of the population is of European ancestry; the city has a substantial concentration of German Canadians. 15.4 percent of the population claimed to be members of a visible minority.

Kitchener (204,608)

Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City–Windsor Corridor. Windsor is known as “The City of Roses,” and its residents are known as Windsorites. It is the only city in Canada that looks north of the United States.

Drivers of Ontario’s population growth


Ontario attracts many immigrants yearly, often settling in major cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton.

Natural increase

This refers to the difference between births and deaths. Ontario has a relatively high birth rate, contributing to population growth.


People are increasingly moving from rural areas to urban centers, and Ontario is no exception. Many people are attracted to the economic and cultural opportunities offered by cities.

Employment opportunities

Ontario cities have many major employers in the finance, technology, and healthcare sectors. This attracts people from other parts of the province and beyond.

Housing affordability

Despite high housing prices in some cities, Ontario is still seen as a more affordable place to live compared to other major urban centers such as Vancouver or New York City.


Ontario is home to several world-class universities which attract students worldwide. Many of these students choose to stay in the province after graduation, contributing to population growth.

Additional information about Ontario’s population projections

  • Ontario’s population is projected to increase by 35.8%, or almost 5.3 million, over the next 26 years, from an estimated 14.7 million on July 1, 2020, to over 20.0 million by July 1, 2046.
  • The pandemic has affected the growth of Ontario’s population through both the disruptions to migration flows and the associated higher mortality. From a rate of 1.3% last year (2019–20), the pace of annual growth of the provincial population is projected to decrease to 0.6% in 2020–21 before rising to 2.1% in 2021–22. After that, the rate of growth is projected to ease gradually over time, reaching 1.0% by 2045–46.
  • Net migration is projected to account for 86% of all population growth in the province over 2020–2046, with natural increase accounting for the remaining 14%.
  • The number of seniors aged 65 and over is projected to almost double from 2.6 million, or 17.6% of the population, in 2020 to 4.5 million, or 22.2%, by 2046. The growth in the share and number of seniors accelerates over 2020–2031 as the last cohorts of baby boomers turn 65. After 2031, the growth in the number of seniors will slow significantly.
  • The number of children aged 0–14 is projected to increase moderately over the projection period, from 2.3 million in 2020 to 3.0 million by 2046. The children’s population share is projected to decrease gradually from 15.5% in 2020 to 14.8% by 2046.
  • The number of Ontarians aged 15–64 is projected to increase from 9.9 million in 2020 to 12.6 million by 2046. This age group is projected to decline as a share of the total population, from 66.9% in 2020 to 62.9% by 2046. As baby boomers continue to turn age 65, the growth in the population aged 15–64 slows until 2027–28 and then accelerates slightly over the remainder of the projection period.
  • Each province’s six regions is projected to see growing populations over the projection period. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is projected to be the fastest-growing region, with its population increasing by 2.9 million, or 40.9%, from 7.1 million in 2020 to almost 10.0 million by 2046. The GTA‘s share of the provincial population is projected to rise from 48.0% in 2020 to 49.8% in 2046.
  • All regions will see a shift to an older age structure. The GTA is expected to remain the region with the youngest age structure due to solid international migration and positive natural increases. Source: Ontario Government

Where do new immigrants settle in Ontario?

Ontario typically attracts half of the total number of immigrants to Canada.

  • In 2020, its share was 45% as the province of choice for newcomers. No wonder in the 2016 Census of over 7.5 million foreign-born individuals in Canada, 29.1% of Ontario’s population are foreign-born citizens, making the province own the highest proportion of the foreign-born population.
  • Asia remains Ontario’s top source of immigrants, accounting for 68.8% of newcomers. India (14.7%) leads the group, followed by China (12.5%), the Philippines (11.3%), Pakistan (5.4%), and Iran (4.5%).
  • There were 472,170 immigrants to Toronto between 2011 and 2016. Of this number, 356,930 (75.6%) settled in the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA).
Location Percentage of Foreign-born Individuals
Markham 58.7%
Richmond Hill 57.4%
Mississauga 53.4%
Brampton 52.3%
Toronto 47.0%



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