The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship’s recently released 2018 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration asserts: “Immigration is a defining feature of Canada”. Given 1 in 5 individuals in Canada was born outside this country, immigration undoubtedly plays a critical role in shaping Canada today.
Population growth through immigration
Population growth is essential to sustaining Canada. The vast majority – two-thirds – of population growth in Canada today is because of immigration. From 2011 to 2016, Canada led the G7 countries in terms of population growth because of immigration.
Canada is dependent on population growth. Canada’s population is aging, and the country’s fertility rate continues to remain low. To sustain economic development and run social support programs, immigration is essential. As the Minister stated, “If we are going to be able to keep our commitments for health care and pensions and all our social programs and to continue to grow our economy and meet our labour market needs in the decades to come, we must respond to this clear demographic challenge.”
Low immigration and economic growth levels in Atlantic Canada
An easy way to quickly realize the benefits that immigration brings to Canada is to consider the alternative: If Canada closes its borders, what happens to this country?
We do not need to look too far nor speculate: The Atlantic region of Canada provides a relevant, natural example of the costs of low immigration levels. According to the 2018 Annual Report, in 2017 the province of Ontario welcomed 111,925 permanent residents, Quebec followed at 52,388 and British Columbia took third place at 38,443. Contrast this with Atlantic Canada, whose four provinces together welcomed only 10,682 permanent residents that same year.
As the Conference Board of Canada’s 2018 report “Canada 2040: No Immigration versus More Immigration” notes: Atlantic Canada’s weak population and economic growth, low public and private sector investment and difficulties retaining residences and immigrants shows what would happen if Canada halted or reduced immigration. As the report explains: Atlantic Canada’s weak population growth makes it all the more difficult to enable public funding of needed social services. This is especially troubling as Canada’s population ages and as the demand for more costly services, such as health care, rises in the region.
Recognizing the costs of no or low immigration to the region, in 2016 the federal and regional provincial governments responded with the Atlantic Growth Strategy, which includes the promotion of Atlantic Canada as a destination of choice for immigrants.
Trends in the 2018 Annual Report
The 2018 Annual Report also provides insights on immigration trends in relation to the economy, occupations and geography. The data indicates:
- Immigrants in all categories – including refugees – have positive outcomes across many economic indicators as their time spent in Canada increases;
- The top five occupations for principal applicants in 2017 were information systems analysts and consultants, software engineers, computer programmers and interactive media developers, financial auditors and accountants, and administrative assistants;
- The top three source countries for permanent residences in 2017 were India at 18%, followed by the Philippines at 14% and the People’s Republic of China rounding out the top three at 11%; and
- In 1997, 90% of immigrants to Canada made their way to Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, but by 2017, there was a drop to 66%.
For more information, please contact Green and Spiegel directly.