Canada's population grew by record 1 million in 2022, spurred by international migration
Total population closing in on 40 million as Canada remains fastest-growing G7 country: StatsCan
Canada's population increased by more than a million people for the first time in history in 2022, almost entirely due to a surge in immigrants and temporary residents, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday.
Total population grew by a record 1.05 million people to 39.57 million in the 12 months to Jan. 1, 2023, and about 96 per cent of the rise was due to international migration, the statistics agency said.
The increase, which helped Canada retain its position as the fastest-growing G7 country, translates to a population growth rate of 2.7 per cent and such a rate would lead to the population doubling in about 26 years, the agency said.
Canada depends on immigration to drive its economy and support an aging population, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government sharply ramped up immigration since taking power in 2015.
Ottawa has also been running special initiatives to temporarily take in people impacted by crises like the Ukraine war, instability in Afghanistan, or the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
On Wednesday, the federal government extended its program for Ukrainians fleeing the war with Russia.
The Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program allows Ukrainians and their family members to settle in Canada for up to three years. Successful applicants can apply for work and study permits free of charge.
The government has approved 616,429 applications since the program began in March 2022, and more than 133,000 people have arrived in Canada through the program.
Record international migration
In 2022, Canada welcomed 437,180 immigrants and the number of non-permanent residents increased by a net 607,782 people. Both figures are the highest levels on record and reflect "higher immigration targets and a record-breaking year for the processing of immigration applications," StatsCan said.
The rise in international migration could "represent additional challenges for some regions of the country related to housing, infrastructure and transportation, and service delivery to the population," the agency also said.
StatsCan counts both permanent and non-permanent residents in addition to net new births in calculating population figures.
Canada has been experiencing an upward trend in total employment since September, and the statistics agency has previously said that non-permanent residents are a notable contributor to that gain.
Immigration accounts for almost 100 per cent of Canada's labour force growth and by 2036 immigrants are projected to be about 30 per cent of Canada's population, up from 20.7 per cent in 2011, according to Canada's Immigration Ministry.
Under a three-year plan announced in November, the Trudeau government wants to continue increasing annual immigration targets, with a goal to grant permanent residency to 465,000 people in 2023 and increasing that goal to 500,000 people by 2025.
The plan puts an emphasis on increasing the number of immigrants who will be admitted based on their work skills or experience over the next three years.
More than half of recent immigrants — 748,120 of the 1.3 million admitted to Canada between 2016 and 2021 — entered Canada under the economic category, according to Statistics Canada.
With files from Richard Raycraft, CBC News and The Canadian Press