Federal electoral districts redistribution 2022

Methodology for the Commission's Work

Having decided that Labrador should remain a separate district, the Commission decided that it would require a modified approach to assessing the boundaries of each district against a quota. As we have noted, the Act requires the calculation of a quota for the province based on the latest census population divided by the number of seats allocated. That is to be the starting point for the Commission's work.

However, the Commission's decision to maintain a separate seat for Labrador presents a challenge in determining the boundaries for the remaining six districts. We are charged by the Act with setting boundaries so that the population of each district remains as close as possible to the provincial quota. Setting Labrador as a separate district changes the math.

The 2021 decennial census established the population of the province at 510,550, a change from the 2011 census, which had reported a population of 514,536. The allocation of seven seats to the province means that the provincial quota in 2022 is 72,936. Taking Labrador out of the calculation means that the population of the other districts would significantly deviate from the quota, although the deviation would not approach the limit of 25 percent set out in the Act.

The Commission decided that it would be useful to set a separate quota for the districts on the island and use that quota as the target when setting boundaries. When we subtract the population of Labrador (26,655) from the provincial population, the island population is 483,895. For the purposes of its work, the Commission decided to work with a quota of 80,649 for the six island districts (483,895 divided by 6). In this proposal report, the term "provincial quota" will be used in reference to the quota for the entire province (510,550 divided by 7). The term "reference quota" will be used in calculating the deviation for the six districts on the island, without including Labrador's population.

The Commission remained mindful of the direction contained in the Act and the decision of the Supreme Court. The principles of arithmetic parity were applied, along with ensuring the maintenance of geographic integrity, communities of interest and identity, transportation links and other obstacles to effective representation.

The Commission also reviewed the significant changes in boundaries on the island brought about by the previous commission in 2012. At that time, the districts on the west coast and the south coast of the island were reconfigured. Previously, the boundaries for both districts had followed the old transportation routes, involving, for the most part, travel by water. The 2012 commission decided to follow the modern transportation routes so that representation for both districts would become more manageable from communication and transportation perspectives. The Commission decided that it would not deviate from this approach in this redistribution.

Subject to the use of the reference quota for the districts on the island, the Commission's approach in presenting this proposal followed the direction in section 15 of the Act. Boundaries were adjusted, first, to have the population of each district adhere as closely as possible to the quota. Second, in adjusting the existing boundaries, the approach intended to reflect communities of interest or identity, or historical patterns, where these were evident. Where possible, municipalities would not be divided.

As a working principle, the Commission endeavoured to propose boundaries that would bring all the island districts as close as possible to a deviation of 10 percent from the provincial quota. Since the Commission had set a separate quota for the districts on the island, the goal was to ensure that the variations from the reference quota would be less than 5 percent.

In examining the population shifts on the island, it was determined that, for the most part, only small adjustments were required to the boundaries. While the province as a whole recorded a loss of population, the ridings on the Avalon Peninsula saw an increase. This reflects a continuing pattern of population movement from the rural to the urban areas of the province. As a consequence, districts on the Avalon Peninsula generally decreased in geographic size to reflect the increase in population, and districts elsewhere on the island increased in geographic size to reflect a decrease in population.