Canada’s population growth at highest level in more than 30 years

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113,700 new immigrants arrived in Canada in the first quarter of 2022.

As of April 1, 2022, Canada’s population was estimated to be nearly 39 million people. This is a population increase of nearly 128,000 people over three months from January 1.

This marks the highest rate of growth in the first quarter of a year since 1990 and is a continuation of the high population growth rates seen before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020.

Ontario and New Brunswick reach new milestones

This growth is most apparent in two Canadian provinces. Between January-March 2022 Ontario’s population surpassed 15 million people. Ontario is already Canada’s most populous province and home to Canada’s largest city.

The province of New Brunswick is also experiencing an unprecedented growth in population as data shows the population now exceeds 800,000. During 2021-2022 fiscal year, 6,581 immigrants arrived in the province, and over 10,000 people moved to New Brunswick from Ontario.

Nunavut, a territory in Canada’s north, also made record breaking gains by exceeding 40,000 people.

Other provinces continued to experience steady growth. Of note, Nova Scotia saw a 0.4% increase and Prince Edward Island 0.8%.

Growth is due to immigration

These population gains are widely credited to immigration. In the first quarter of 2022, Canada welcomed 113,700 new immigrants, the largest number in any first quarter since quarterly data became available in 1946.

These numbers mark an increase of 62% over the first quarter of 2021 and a 64% increase from the same period in 2020.

More temporary work permit holders staying in Canada

The Immigration Levels Plan targets are only for permanent residents. Each year Canada also issues an unlimited number of work permits to several thousand temporary workers. In the first quarter of 2022, over 28,000 temporary workers arrived in Canada.

A labour market study released earlier this week suggests that many new permanent residents arrive in Canada on a temporary work permit and use the experience they gain to eventually obtain permanent residence. Over the past decade, the number of work permit holders in Canada jumped from 111,000 to 770,000.

Looking ahead

Canada needs to consistently increase immigration levels due to its aging population and low birth rate. It is expected that by 2030, nine million workers from the baby boomer generation will reach the retirement age of 65, leaving large gaps in the workforce that can’t be filled by natural born Canadians.