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. The Commission is 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% 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 report, the term "provincial quota" will be used with regards 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.

It is noted that, of the submissions from the public that made reference to this "dual quota" process, all were supportive. This approach emphasized the support for the unique circumstances of Labrador in the electoral process.

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 geographical integrity, communities of interest and identity, transportation links and other obstacles to effective representation.

The Commission also reviewed the significant changes to the 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 substantially. 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 (on land) 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. Waterways remain a major concern for many residents of the province, and our Commission sought to consider as many factors as possible in its recommendations. The Commission believes that the decisions made in 2012 regarding transportation routes and communication continue to make sense today.

Subject to the use of the reference quota for the districts on the island, the Commission's approach 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 community of interest or identity, or historical patterns, where these were evident. Where possible, municipalities would not be divided. The public hearings process and the written and verbal submissions made by members of the public led the Commission to consider not only the importance of keeping municipalities whole but also the need to take regional partnerships seriously in its determinations of "community of interest." Thus, this report reflects the Commission's attempts to meet varying representational needs across the province.

As a working principle, following the public consultations, the Commission endeavoured to bring all the island ridings as close as possible to a deviation of 15% from the provincial quota. Since the Commission had set a separate quota for the ridings on the island, the goal was to ensure that the variations from the reference quota would be less than 8%.

In examining the population shifts on the island, it was determined that, for the most part, only small adjustments were required to the boundaries of several ridings. 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 of these population flows, the boundaries of the districts on the Avalon Peninsula generally changed the most.