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  • Writer's pictureAabid Sakir

The highest population growth in Canada since 1957 is driven by immigration

According to Statistics Canada, Canada's population has surged and reached an estimated 40,528,396 on October 1st, 2023, encompassing both citizens and residents.

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This increase of 430,635 people represents a noteworthy growth rate of 1.1% since July 1st, 2023. It marks the highest population growth in any quarter since the second quarter of 1957, when Canada's population expanded by 1.2%. During that time, Canada had a population of only 16.7 million, and growth was driven by post-war baby boom births and an influx of refugees following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

The recorded population growth for the first nine months of 2023, totaling 1,030,378 people, is the largest on record, including the record-high growth witnessed in 2022.

International migration is the primary driver of Canada's population growth. In the third quarter of 2023, 96% of the population growth resulted from international migration, while the remaining 4% stemmed from natural increase. The contribution of natural increase to population growth is expected to remain low in the coming years due to an aging population, lower fertility levels, and a high number of immigrants coming to Canada.

In the third quarter of 2023, Canada welcomed 107,972 immigrants, reaching 79.8% (371,299) of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's (IRCC) annual target of 465,000 immigrants from January to September 2023.

There is also a significant increase in non-permanent residents, with a historical net increase of 312,758 in the third quarter alone. This surge is mainly attributed to a rise in work and study permit holders, along with a slight increase in refugee claimants.

All provinces and territories, except the Northwest Territories, experienced population growth, with Alberta (1.3%), Prince Edward Island (1.2%), and Ontario (1.2%) exceeding the national average growth rate in the third quarter of 2023.

Regarding interprovincial migration, Alberta stands out as the only province experiencing net gains, with an increase of 17,094 in the third quarter of 2023. This marks the fifth consecutive quarter with gains exceeding 10,000, a trend not seen since 1971. Most of Alberta's gains are attributed to interprovincial exchanges with Ontario and British Columbia.

On November 1st, Canada released its Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026, targeting the admission of 485,000 new immigrants in 2024 and aiming to welcome 500,000 new immigrants in each of 2025 and 2026. The plan outlines specific targets for economic, family, and humanitarian immigration classes, with increases in Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) targets over the next three years.

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