Canada’s thriving population growth: how immigration is playing a key role

Immigration is a key factor in driving Canada’s economy and sustaining its aging population, and the Liberal government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has significantly increased immigration since 2015.

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Canada's thriving population growth: how immigration is playing a key role
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Immigration rates continue to rise
Statistics Canada, the country’s statistics agency, recently reported that Canada’s population had increased by more than a million people for the first time in history. From 1.05 million people to 39.57 million, it represents a 2.7% growth, in the twelve months leading up to January 1, 2023. This rise was almost exclusively attributed to a surge in immigrants and temporary residents, with approximately 96% of the growth being the result of international migration.

In 2022, the country welcomed a total of 437,180 immigrants representing the highest level on record. Additionally, the number of non-permanent residents increased by a net of 607,782 people, also representing a record-breaking year. According to Statistics Canada, these figures are reflective of “higher immigration targets and a record-breaking year for the processing of immigration applications.”

One in four Canadians is an immigrant, making it the highest rate among the G7 countries, namely: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Comparatively, only 14% of the population in the United States are immigrants, despite the nation’s reputation of being a “melting pot”.

Geoffrey Cameron, a political scientist at McMaster University, has noted that a successful immigration system is contingent upon public support, which is often a limiting factor for many countries. Canada has traditionally had a positive outlook on immigration due to the belief that the government handles it effectively and beneficially. However, this does not mean that there are no apprehensions surrounding immigration.

Labor market expands
Apart from the recorded increase in immigrants, the Immigration Ministry of Canada is also responsible for almost all of Canada’s labor force expansion, and the immigration office has projected that by 2036, immigrants will constitute approximately 30% of the country’s population, up from 20.7% in 2011.

The country’s statistics agency has also reported consistent growth in employment since September 2022, with non-permanent residents making a substantial contribution to this trend. The agency released the most recent Labour Force Survey revealing that there was a slight increase in employment after two consecutive monthly increases in December 2022 and January 2023.

In April 2023, another significant data was released by Statistics Canada. The country’s economy gained a net 150,000 jobs in January, the majority of which were full-time positions, far exceeding analyst expectations. The unemployment rate remained at 5.0%, surpassing the anticipated increase to 5.1%. The goods-producing sector experienced a net increase of 25,400 jobs, largely in construction, while the services sector saw a net rise of 124,700 positions, primarily in wholesale and retail trade, as well as health care and social assistance.

Canada’s ambitious immigration goals
The Trudeau Government has developed a three-year plan to raise the yearly immigration target, to grant permanent residency to 465,000 people in 2023, and further increase the number to 500,000 by 2025. This plan is approximately eight times higher than that of the United Kingdom, and four times higher than that of the United States.

According to Professor Randall Hansen, a Canada Research Chair in Global Migration at the University of Toronto, there is a more favorable debate about immigration in “settler” countries, notably Canada, than in Western Europe.

He posited that Canada has largely constructed its national identity on the notion of multiculturalism rather than being open, liberal, and accepting of individuals from other nations.

Canada’s favorable attitude toward immigration to several variables, including border regulation, selection of the most skilled migrants from throughout the world, and space constraints in big cities, Professor Hansen added.

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