2021 census data released by Statistics Canada Feb. 9 shows that Thompson is the fastest-shrinking Manitoba municipality.
The Hub of the North is also among the top 25 communities in Canada of 5,000 or more residents when it comes to decreasing population.
Census numbers for Thompson showed that it lost 643 residents since the 2016 census and had a population of 13,035 last year, down from 13,678 five years earlier.
That translates into a 4.7 per cent population decline, 13th-worst in all of Canada, in percentage terms.
Only two of the communities that lost a higher percentage of their population over that time period lost more total residents than Thompson, which has the fourth-highest population of the 25 fastest-declining municipalities and is the only Manitoba community on the list.
18 of the 25 fastest-shrinking municipalities of over 5,000 people have populations below 10,000.
The population percentage drop in Thompson is more than twice as high as in the second-fastest-declining municipality in the province – Rhineland – which shrank 2.1 per cent. No other Manitoba community saw its population decline by more than two per cent from 2016 to 2021. St. Andrews shrank 1.6 per cent, the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie by 1.2 per cent and the city of Portage la Prairie by 0.3 per cent.
Thompson ticks many of the boxes that characterize the fastest-shrinking municipalities, as it is far from a census metropolitan area, in Western Canada and heavily dependent on a specific industry tied to natural resources.
“Population growth in such areas is closely linked to structural changes affecting those industries, such as price changes or shifts in the supply and demand for primary goods,” said Statistics Canada’s report on the fastest-growing and most quickly declining municipalities.
Eighteen percent of Canada’s 737 municipalities with more than 5,000 residents saw their populations decline from 2016 to 2021.