NWT’s population dropped by 217 people in 2022

Yellowknife is seen from the air in May 2020
Yellowknife is seen from the air in May 2020. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

Newly released data suggests the Northwest Territories’ population shrank by 217 people, or 0.5 percent, between January 2022 and January 2023.

Figures published by the NWT Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday show the territory was the only Canadian jurisdiction to record a drop in population over the past 12 months.

The NWT’s population as of January 1 this year was 45,493, according to Statistics Canada data. Yukon’s population grew by 2.3 percent to 44,238, while Nunavut’s population rose by 1.7 percent to 40,692.

The population of Canada as a whole rose by 2.7 percent to 39,566,248.



Prince Edward Island experienced the largest percentage increase. Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia all exceeded Canada’s growth.

In the NWT, births and international migration are propping up the numbers as hundreds of people leave for the south.

In 2022, the territory recorded 546 births against 268 deaths, a net increase of 278, and attracted 405 migrants from other countries.

But that overall gain of 683 people was offset by a net loss of 900 people to other provinces and territories.



For example, in the period between October and January, the NWT recorded a net loss of 126 people to Alberta and 89 people to Ontario. That pattern remained essentially the same throughout the year.

This isn’t new – not since 2003 has domestic migration into the Northwest Territories exceeded the number of people leaving the NWT for the rest of Canada – but the net deficit is growing.

In a recent statement, the NWT government said: “Population growth is critical in the North and departments are undertaking a number of projects and programs to support the goal.”