Halifax Index 2022


Scroll to top

You are viewing the 2022 Halifax Index.

To view the current edition, click here.

All Halifax Index editions: 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020


Halifax’s population grew 2.1% in 2021, the highest increase across benchmark cities.1The largest-ever number of interprovincial migrants came to Halifax in 2021, representing 60.4% of total population growth.

Of the newcomers to Halifax, 7,213 were 15 - 44 years of age, 902 were 45 years and older, and 668 were 14 years and younger.

Despite travel restrictions that affected immigrant admissions, international student enrolment proved resilient with 7,286 individuals enrolled in local universities.

There were also 24,246 Canadian students studying in our universities. Including international students, there were 31,532 students across all Halifax universities, as well as 4,024 students at NSCC's three Halifax campuses – together setting a record for total enrolment. STEM enrolment reached a record high as well at 15,409.

According to new data from the 2021 census, Halifax had the second-largest share among major Canadian Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) of people identifying as transgender men, transgender women, and non-binary persons.

Jump to a section

Halifax Index 2022

Halifax’s success in dealing with COVID-19, its relatively low cost of living compared to many major Canadian centres, and its enviable quality of life made the city one of the most desirable places to live in Canada in 2021. Consequently, Halifax experienced robust population growth including the second-largest number of interprovincial migrants across all CMAs in the country at 5,594. This interprovincial movement, a record high for Halifax, represented 60.4% of the city’s total growth.

However, strict travel restrictions globally meant that Halifax failed to break its record for population growth for the first time since 2015. The number of international migrants, which had been the main driver for population growth from 2015 through 2020, fell to 2,589 (28.0% of total growth), a 58.6% decline over 2020’s record figure.

Net natural growth2contributed 5.2% of Halifax’s population growth (485 people) and net intraprovincial migration accounted for 6.4% (594 people). As of July 1, 2021, Halifax’s population stood at 460,274, 2.1% over its 2020 level.

Source: Statistics Canada, Annual Demographic Estimates, Table 17-10-0135-01

Halifax Population Growth

  • Between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, Halifax experienced the third-highest population growth rate in its history at 2.1% -- despite travel restrictions put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • Halifax had the third-fastest growth rate among all Canadian cities behind only Kelowna (2.6%) and Oshawa (2.3%).
  • The population of Halifax was 460,274 as of July 1, 2021, with 9,262 new residents added over the last year, the third-highest annual increase on record.


Source: Statistics Canada, Annual Demographic Estimates, Table 17-10-0135-01

Population Growth by City

  • Halifax’s 2.1% population growth rate was the highest among benchmark cities and the third highest among all CMAs.
  • Halifax also had the largest growth across benchmark cities in terms of absolute numbers with 9,262 new residents. This was the seventh largest across all CMAs.


Source: Statistics Canada, Annual Demographic Estimates, Table 17-10-0136-01

Halifax Population Growth by Source

  • Interprovincial migration was the largest source of new residents, representing 60.4% (5,594) of the total. This is the highest number of interprovincial migrants Halifax has ever seen and the first time that it has constituted a larger share of growth than international migrants.
  • The share of international migrants dropped below 50% for the first time since 2013 at 28% (2,589). Intraprovincial migration contributed 6.4% (594) while net natural growth represented 5.2% (485).


Source: Statistics Canada, Annual Demographic Estimates, Table 17-10-0136-01

Components of Growth by City

  • Halifax saw the largest influx of interprovincial migrants in its history at 5,594 people, which was not only the largest among benchmark cities but also the second largest across all Canadian cities, behind only Vancouver.
  • The number of international migrants decreased for all cities. Halifax welcomed 2,589 new residents from abroad, 3,671 fewer people than the year before.


Halifax Index 2022

After losing young workers to Central and Western Canada for decades, Halifax has seen a large influx of young migrants over the last few years, especially since the start of the pandemic. In 2021, for the second consecutive year, most newcomers to Halifax were in the 25 - 39 age group (53.0%), the highest across benchmark cities. The second-largest cohort was the 55+ age group (39.0%). Halifax and Quebec City were the only two benchmark cities to experience growth in the 0 - 14 age group.

In total, 5,575 new residents came from other Canadian provinces, 2,592 were international immigrants, and 616 came from other parts of Nova Scotia.

The 73.3% increase in interprovincial migrants over 2020 was driven by such factors as the reputation Halifax and Nova Scotia gained for successfully handling the pandemic, the move to online work that allowed employees at companies based elsewhere to work from Halifax, and the differential in housing costs between Halifax and other centres like Toronto and Vancouver.

The number of international migrants fell 58.6% due to travel restrictions, but this is expected to rebound with the federal government’s plan to increase immigrant admission to a record 432,000 across the country in 2022.

In 2021, the most popular source country for immigrants in Halifax was India with 2,570 people (the most ever from a single country in one year), followed by China with 760 people. These two countries were also the two most popular source countries for immigrants in Halifax over the last decade with 8,775 arrivals from India, and 4,455 from China since 2011.

The dependency ratio3in Halifax worsened from 40.7% in 2001 to 44.9% in 2021. This is not unexpected as Baby Boomers, who represent the largest share of Halifax’s population (27.1%), near or enter retirement age.

An update on the ethnocultural mix of Halifax’s population must wait until the relevant data from the 2021 Census of Canada are released later this year. This topic will receive extensive coverage in the 2023 Halifax Index. New census data are available now, however, on gender identity. It is noteworthy that Halifax has the second-largest population share of transgender men, transgender women, and non-binary persons across all Canadian cities except Victoria.

Source: Statistics Canada, Annual Demographic Estimates, Table 17-10-0135-01

Population Growth By Age

  • For the second year in a row, Halifax saw the largest growth in people ages 25 - 39 years across all benchmark cities with 4,909 new residents. This age cohort also had the largest growth across all age groups in Halifax.
  • All benchmark cities saw a decline in people ages 15 - 24 years, with Halifax down 388 people. This was the second-smallest decline, though, after Regina (-366).
  • The number of people age 55 years and older in Halifax grew by 3,609 new residents, representing almost 40% of net growth.
  • Halifax and Quebec City were the only two cities to see an increase in the population ages 0 - 14 years, growing by 262 and 569, respectively.


Population by Age 2001 vs 2021

Source: Statistics Canada, Annual Demographic Estimates, Table 17-10-0135-01

  • In 2021, the most populous age group in Halifax was age 25 - 39. In contrast, in 2001, the most populous age group was 35 - 49.
  • Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 79) made up the largest share of the population in 2021 with 124,603 people, followed by Generation Z and younger (ages 0 to 24) with 120,586 people. Millennials (ages 25 to 39) were not far behind with 111,164.  Generation X (ages 40 to 54) totalled 87,395 people while 16,526 people were born before the Baby Boom.
  • The dependency ratio in Halifax stood at 44.9% in 2021, up from 40.7% in 2001.


Source: Statistics Canada, Annual Demographic Estimates, Table 17-10-0136-01

Halifax Migration by Age

  • Halifax added 4,586 new residents in the 15 - 29 age group. Of those, 60.9% (2,794 people) came from other provinces while 20.3% (931 people) were international immigrants. 18.8% (861 people) came from other areas within Nova Scotia.
  • Across age groups, those 65+ years represented the lowest share of new residents with 4.3% (374 people) of the total 8,783 new migrants.
  • For new residents of working age (15 - 64 years), 1,921 were immigrants and 4,898 were interprovincial migrants. This age group also added 922 people from other areas of Nova Scotia.


Source: Statistics Canada, Census of Canada (2021)

Halifax Population by Select Gender Identities

  • Although cisgender men and women represent the vast majority of residents (99.3%), Halifax had the second-highest total share (0.7%) of transgender men, transgender women, and non-binary persons across all CMAs in Canada, behind Victoria.
  • Transgender men and women each represented 0.2% of Halifax’s total population and 0.3% were non-binary persons.
  • Within age groups, those 15 - 34 years had a higher share of people who identified as transgender men, transgender women, and non-binary persons (1.4%). Among those ages 35 and older, 0.3% were in these categories.


Halifax Index 2022

Enrolment at Halifax’s universities increased yet again in 2020-21, growing by 2.4% (737 students), the largest increase since 2010-11. Total enrolment for the 6 universities4was 31,532 in 2020-21. Additionally, the Nova Scotia Community College had 4,024 students enrolled at its Halifax campuses.

Enrolment in university increased both for students from within Nova Scotia (+698) and for those from other provinces (+309). International student enrolment fell by 270 students in 2021; however, the 7,286 total enrolment is still the second-highest behind only 7,556 in 2019-20.

At NSCC’s three Halifax campuses, total enrolment decreased by 0.7% (-28 students) in 2020-21 although NSCC enrolment across Nova Scotia grew by 0.5%. International student enrolment across all NSCC campuses dropped by 4.4%.

Fields related to the sciences and mathematics had the largest number of students enrolled (7,681 in 2020-21) and the third-largest number of graduates (1,423 in 2019-20) at Halifax universities.

Commerce and administration had the most graduates (1,514 in 2019-20) and the second-largest enrolment (5,829 in 2020-21). STEM5enrolment reached the highest number in Halifax’s history at 15,409 in 2020-21, with 11,829 pursuing undergraduate degrees and 3,580 enrolled in graduate programs.

University tuition in Halifax for 2021-22 was higher than the national average and higher than all other benchmark cities. Average tuition fees in Halifax had a compound annual growth rate of 3.5% over the last 6 years.

The Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP), a collaborative project that provides data on student achievement in Canada and the provinces, shows that 8th graders in Nova Scotia have an average score of 505 in science, which is equal to the Canadian average. The mean scores for both reading (500) and math (498) are lower for Nova Scotian students than the respective Canadian averages. Nova Scotia ranks fourth in all three subjects across all provinces.

Source: Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, Enrolment Data

Halifax University Enrolment by Origin

  • 2020-21 set a new record for student enrolment in Halifax at 31,532, an increase of 2.4% over 2019-20.
  • Nova Scotian residents drove the growth in university enrolment with a net increase of 698 students for a total of 14,644 students from within the province.
  • International student enrolment fell by 270 compared to 2019-20, but the total figure was still the second highest ever at 7,286.
  • 9,602 Canadian students from outside Nova Scotia enrolled in Halifax universities, an increase of 309 since a year ago.


Source: Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, Enrolment Data

University Enrolment by Country of Origin

  • After falling to second place behind India in 2019-20, China was once again the number one source country for Halifax’s international students in 2020-21.
  • Between 2016-17 and 2020-21, Halifax welcomed 17,241 international students from China, 10,578 from India, and 21,723 students from other countries.


Source: Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, Enrolment Data

Halifax University Enrolment by Field of Study

  • Mathematics and the sciences continue to be the most popular field for enrolment in Halifax with 6,299 undergraduate and 1,382 graduate enrolments in 2020-21.
  • The largest enrolment for graduate students, however, was in fields related to health professions with 1,467 students.
  • Although the total number of graduate enrolments declined (-371), undergraduate enrolment more than made up for the loss (+613).


Source: Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, Credentials Granted Data

Halifax University Graduates by Field of Study

  • In 2019-20, fields in commerce and administration saw the largest number of credentials granted with 1,109 undergraduate and 405 graduate students graduating from their fields.
  • 2,003 graduate students were granted credentials in 2019- 20, the highest number on record. The largest number of graduate degrees was granted in the sciences and mathematics.


Source: Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, Enrolment Data

Halifax University Enrolment in STEM Fields

  • STEM enrolment has grown by an average of 2.7% annually since 2009-10, with the 2020-21 total reaching a record 15,409.
  • Enrolment in the sciences and mathematics reached an all-time high of 7,681, and engineering saw the second-highest enrolment at 3,126.


*These are incoming enrolment figures. The Halifax calculations include the Akerley, Ivany, and Institute of Technology Campuses. NSCC's eCampus enrolments (556 students) are not included.

Source: Nova Scotia Community College, Custom Request

NSCC Enrolment by Field

  • Enrolment at NSCC’s Halifax campuses increased by 8.4% from 2019-20 to 2020-21. However, the 2,378 students enrolled in 2020-21 were 13.9% fewer than in 2018-19.
  • Enrolment in fields related to business studies continued to dominate Halifax campuses, but the 466 enrolments in 2020-21 are the lowest in 5 years.
  • IT and data analytics is the only field that has returned to pre-pandemic enrolment levels with 214 new students in 2020-21.
  • Out of the 10,101 total students studying at NSCC across the province, 4,024 (39.8%) were at Halifax campuses.


Source: Statistics Canada, Undergraduate Tuition Fees, Table 37-10-0120-01

Undergraduate Domestic Tuition Costs

  • University tuition fees for Canadian students in Halifax were above the national average and higher than in all other benchmark cities. The Halifax average of $9,260 is $2,567 above the national average.
  • KCW had the highest average tuition among benchmark cities until 2018-19. In 2019-20, Halifax took the top spot by a mere $4, but since then the difference has grown to $526.
  • Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have had the lowest tuition fees at less than half of the national average due to their low-tuition policies. However, Newfoundland and Labrador will be increasing tuition to about $6,000 in the fall of 2022, and Quebec’s low-tuition policy is only intended for students residing in Quebec.


*Canadian means equal 505 for Reading and Science and 510 for Math.

Source: Council of Ministers of Education Canada, Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (2019)

Student Performance by Province and Subject

  • Nova Scotia’s mean score of 505 in science was equal to the Canadian average and was the fourth highest across all provinces.
  • In reading, Nova Scotia tied for fourth with Newfoundland and Labrador at 500, below the Canadian average of 505.
  • Nova Scotia’s lowest score was its average for math: 498. This was 12 points lower than the Canadian average but still ranked fourth across all provinces.


Next Section: Labour



This website uses cookies
This website uses cookies to improve user experience and analyse website traffic. By using our website without adjusting your cookie settings you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.