Canada Welcomes Record Number of Immigrants, Seeks More
Canada announces the arrival of a record number of new permanent residents in 2022, cementing its status as one of the most hospitable countries for families and individuals looking to start a new life in a foreign land.
This picture is supported by polls showing that not only do Canadians strongly support high levels of immigration, but that despite its relatively harsh climate, the country ranks second only to the United States as a desirable destination for potential emigrants.
Canada welcomed more than 437,000 new permanent residents in 2022, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. This number represents more than 1.1% of the country’s total population.
“This represents the largest number of people ever admitted in one year in Canadian history,” the agency said in an emailed statement to VOA. “Before a new admissions record was set in 2021, Canada last welcomed such a large number of newcomers in 1913 with 400,870 permanent residents.”
By comparison, the US is estimated to have welcomed around 1 million new permanent residents last year, despite having a population nearly nine times that of Canada.
The need for new workers
Canada’s zeal for new immigrants is fueled in part by acute labor shortages, due in part to a rapidly aging population. The state-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently called the labor shortage “the new normal”.
It’s shaped the thinking of business owners and entrepreneurs like Mylene Despres, founder of La Station Workspace, a hub for creatives and entrepreneurs in Moncton, New Brunswick.
“I am very happy that Canada is welcoming so many people,” Despres told VOA. “That makes the country lively and interesting.”
That view is widely shared, according to Julie Ray, senior consultant and editor-in-chief of world news at polling firm Gallup.
“Our studies just a few years ago found that Canada tops the rest of the world in our Migrant Acceptance Index,” she said, noting that 95% of the organization’s respondents said they see it as a good thing that migrants live in their neighborhood.
Opposition to immigration has largely centered on frustration at soaring real estate prices, which have seen the cost of an average home rise more than five-fold between 1996 and 2021 — from $148,613 ($198,150) to $821,564 ($1,095). $419).
Few politicians are willing to speak out publicly against immigration, but a former politician told VOA on condition of anonymity that they hear concerns from their old constituents that rising immigration has pushed house prices too high.
Among the strongest advocates of increased immigration is a non-profit organization called the Century Initiative, run by senior officials from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, but also backed by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, a staunch supporter of the opposition Conservative Party.
Among its policy recommendations, the Century Initiative has argued that the country should aim to increase its population through immigration from the current 38.25 million to 100 million by 2100.
“Our population is aging, we are having fewer children and our workforce is shrinking. If we stay on course, Canada’s annual GDP growth will decline, along with our influence on the world stage,” the organization says on its website. “Growing our population to 100 million by 2100 would mean … a more skilled workforce, innovation and dynamism in Canada’s economy.”
That goal isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem, according to polls Gallup shared with VOA. Ray cited a global survey showing that 8% of people interested in moving to another country would make Canada their first choice.
“While the 8% doesn’t sound like a lot, it translates to about 74 million people who would consider Canada their next home,” Ray said. “Canada is still the second most popular travel destination in the world after the United States.”