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 2019, Ontario has a population of 14,566,547.
Overall, Canada’s population growth rate is 1.1% in 2020 according to World Bank data. Comparably, Australia has 1.3% and the United States has a 0.4% population growth rate in the same period.
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. Ontario has 52 cities.
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.
The 10 largest cities in Ontario
1. Toronto (2.732 million)
Toronto is Canada’s largest city and the fifth-most populous city in North America. The city is one of the most diverse in the world, with 49% of its residents born outside of Canada.
2. 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 in the world.
3. Mississauga (721,600)
Initially planned as a suburb of Toronto, Mississauga grow to become a distinct city in itself. 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.
4. Brampton (593,635)
Brampton’s name was taken from the town of Brampton in Cumbria, England. Currently, it is home to major economic sectors such as manufacturing, retail, logistics, information and communication technologies, food and beverage, life sciences, and business services.
5. 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.
6. 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 being home to Fanshawe College and the University of Western Ontario.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Windsor (217,185)
Kitchener is the largest city situated within the Grand River watershed, and the largest city 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.
10. 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.
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 growth of Ontario’s population has been affected by the 9 pandemics 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. Thereafter, 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 the 2020–2046 period, 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 the 2020–2031 period as the last cohorts of baby boomers turn age 65. After 2031, the growth in the number of seniors slows 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 share of the population 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 of the six regions of the province 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 as a result of strong international migration and positive natural increases. Source: Ontario Government
Where do new immigrants settle in Ontario?
Ontario typically attracts half of the entire number of immigrants to Canada.
- In 2020, its share was 45% as the province of choice for newcomers. No wonder that 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 the top source of immigrants to Ontario, accounting for 68.8% of total newcomers arriving in the province. 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. Out of this number, 356,930 (75.6%) chose to settle in Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA).