#ImmigrationMatters: Growing Canada’s future

Immigrants help grow Canada’s future through their contribution to various industries. Find out more about the key role they play in each sector.

Health care

Immigration matters in health care

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More than 1.6 million people work in Canada’s health-care sectorFootnote 3 and many more will be needed in the coming years to ensure continued access to high quality care. Almost 500,000 workers in the health-care sector are over the age of 55Footnote 4, and most of these will be retiring in the next decade or so. In addition, there are existing recruitment challenges from everywhere in Canada for nurses, residential care staff and home health-care staff. There’s a clear opportunity for immigrants to play an important role in ensuring there are enough people working in the health-care sector.

The sustainability and effectiveness of the Canadian health care system depend on an integrated and diverse workforce. We value the important contribution of immigrants to our health care system and welcome them to Canada!

Claire Betker, RN, MN, PhD, CCHN(C), President of the Canadian Nurses Association

Impact of immigration

  • Immigrants account for 1 out of every 4 health-care sector workers.
  • Immigrants make up 36% of all pharmacists and family physicians across Canada, as well as 39% of all dentists, 27% of all licensed practical nurses and 35% of nurse aides and related occupations.
  • More than 40% of all newcomers to Canada between 2011 and 2016 who were working in the health-care sector were employed in the important areas of nursing and residential care facilities, as well as home health-care services.

All statistics are from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census.

Percentage of immigrants in health-care occupations
Percentage of immigrants in selected health-care occupations - text version below
Text version: Percentage of immigrants in health-care occupations
  • Licensed practical nurses: 27%
  • Nurse aides, orderlies and related: 35%
  • Pharmacists: 36%
  • General practitioners and family physicians: 36%
  • Dentists: 39%
  • Dental technologists and related: 54%

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census.

Famous Canadian immigrants

Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui

Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui immigrated to Canada from China. He and a team of scientists from the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto discovered the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis. He’s an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame among many other achievements.

Prof. Lakshmi P. Kotra

Prof. Lakshmi P. Kotra immigrated to Canada from India. He discovered a new anti-malaria agent through his research at the University Health Network in Toronto. Prof. Kotra now leads an international association with India for the development of drugs targeting malaria. He won numerous awards, including the Province of Ontario Premier’s Research Excellence Award and the Canadian Society for Pharmaceutical Sciences Young Investigator Award.

Dr. Naranjan S. Dhalla

Born in India, Dr. Dhalla is a professor and research scientist focusing on cardiovascular health and heart disease therapy. He’s the promoter and founder of the International Society for Heart Research and the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences. He’s also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Member of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Order of Manitoba. He was inducted into the Citizens Hall of Fame in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in London, Ontario.

Dr. Adolfo de Bold

Originally from Argentina, Dr. Adolfo de Bold is Professor Emeritus of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Ottawa. He’s recognized for his cardiovascular discovery, atrial natriuretic factor (ANF), a breakthrough in heart research and treatment of heart failure. This work was the top research accomplishment funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario in the past 50 years. He’s an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Dr. Judith G. Hall

Dr. Hall is an American-Canadian medical doctor recognized for her research in pediatric genetic diseases. She helped clarify the importance of folic acid in reducing birth defects and has described genetic syndromes, including one that bears her name: Pallister-Hall syndrome. Dr. Hall has received more than 50 awards throughout her career and became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1998.

Dr. Tak Wah Mak

Born in China, Dr. Tak Wah Mak has made huge contributions in the field of immunology and cancer research by solving the structure of the T-cell receptor gene. This allows researchers to recognize what fights cancers at the cellular level. He received the Gairdner International Award for Science, the Novartis Prize in Immunology, the Paul Ehrlich Prize and the Sloan Award. He’s an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Dr. Julio Montaner

Born in Argentina, Dr. Montaner’s work has had a tremendous impact on stopping the transmission of HIV/AIDS in Canada and globally through his highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) treatment. His honours include the Rx&D Health Research Foundation Medal of Honour and Albert Einstein World of Science Award. Dr. Montaner is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a recipient of the Order of British Columbia and is currently head of the division of AIDS at the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Vladimir Hachinski

Ukrainian-Canadian Dr. Vladimir Hachinski is an international authority in the field of stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s research. He has contributed significantly to the treatment and prevention of stroke and dementia and to the development of the Hachinski Ischemic Score (HIS), the standard method of identifying the treatable component of dementia. He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2009.

Business

Immigration matters in business

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The business sector in Canada employs more than 12 million peopleFootnote 5. Entrepreneurs are a very important part of the business sector and the Canadian economy as a whole. More than 2.7 million Canadians are self-employed, and more than 800,000 of them have paid employeesFootnote 6.

These entrepreneurs ensure there’s competition and consumer choice for products and services in communities large and small from coast to coast to coast. As we look to the future, immigrant entrepreneurs and business leaders will have an important role to play ensuring we have a growing and successful economy.

“Economic immigration has always been the lifeblood of Canada’s economic success and has played a key role in the building of our great nation.”

Dan Kelly, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Impact of immigration

  • Immigrants account for 33% of all business owners with paid staff, creating important local jobs in all sectors of our economy such as construction, professional services, health care and retail trade.
  • There are more than 600,000 self-employed immigrants across the country, and over 260,000 of them have paid employees.
  • There are more than 47,000 immigrants in senior management roles across the country, including:
    • over 15,000 in finance, communications and business services sectors
    • 12,000 in trade, broadcasting and other services, and
    • more than 12,000 in construction, transportation, production and utilities

All statistics are from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census.

Percentage of business owners who are immigrants by sector Footnote 1
Percentage of self-employed immigrants with paid staff in selected industries - text version below
Text version: Percentage of business owners who are immigrants by sector Footnote 1
  • Software publishers: 30%
  • Dentists’ offices: 36%
  • Data processing, hosting & services: 40%
  • Restaurants: 50%
  • Computer systems design & services: 51%
  • Grocery stores: 53%
  • Truck transportation: 56%

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census.

Famous Canadian immigrants

Aldo Bensadoun

Born in Morocco, Aldo Bensadoun founded Aldo Group, a footwear and accessories company based in Montréal that operates in more than 100 countries around the world. On top of his retail success, Mr. Bensadoun is an active supporter of many educational, health-care and arts institutions. Among his many other awards and distinctions, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012 and in 2014, was also named knight of L'Ordre National du Québec.

John Molson

John Molson immigrated to Canada from England and in 1786 established the brewery that still bears his name today. Mr. Molson was also involved in Canada’s earliest banking, steamship and railway companies. The country continues to benefit from his family’s business and philanthropic ventures.

Peter Tielmann

Peter Tielmann immigrated to Canada from Germany and is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian furniture company EQ3. Based in Winnipeg, EQ3 products are mostly made in Canada. All of the upholstery is made in a Winnipeg factory.

Ajay Virmani

Ajay Virmani from India is the President and CEO of Cargojet, the largest cargo airline in Canada. Cargojet provides cargo services domestically and internationally and employs over 800 employees. Cargojet was named one of Canada’s Top 50 Best Managed Companies in 2005, and Virmani received the RBC Entrepreneur Award in 2017. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cargojet dedicated multiple flights to the delivery of personal protection equipment for health-care workers in Canada.

Karim Hakimi

Karim Hakimi is the founder of Hakim Optical, an optician chain with over 600 employees serving Canadians in 161 stores across the country. When his father died as a child, he supported his mother and siblings by grinding magnifying glass from old windowpanes in his native Iran. He continued his craft in Germany and Switzerland before coming to Canada and starting his now 40-year-old business.

Rola Dagher

Rola Dagher immigrated to Canada from Lebanon as a teenager. She worked her way up the tech industry ladder to become the head of Cisco Canada, with 1,700 employees. Not only does she advocate for mental health here at home, she has also inspired Cisco to put in place supports for employees globally. In February 2020, she was recognized for her leadership and named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence.

Sports

Immigration matters in sports

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How we practice sports in Canada today is influenced by a number of factors, including our 4 seasons, and our geographic and social diversity. For example, lacrosse, our national summer sport, has been played by Indigenous peoples for close to 1000 years.

Hockey, our national winter sport, was invented in Canada in the 1800s. Basketball was invented by Canadian Dr. James Naismith in 1891 to condition young athletes during the winter. Our sport system allows people from all segments of Canadian society to get involved in sport activities at all levels and in all forms of participation.

“Football – like citizenship – is the ultimate team game. It requires people of every size, strength, and skillset to work together as a team to achieve great things. [Canada’s] new citizens, and our players, are part of a proud history that has made our league and country stronger.”

Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League

Impact of immigration

  • There are more than 2,800 immigrants working as athletes, coaches, officials and referees across the country.
  • Immigrants make up 20% of all people working in Canada as sports coaches.
  • There are more than 16,000 immigrants who earn their living as program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness.

All statistics are from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census.

Number of immigrants in sports-related occupations
Number of immigrants in selected sports-related occupations - text version below
Text version: Number of immigrants in sports-related occupations
  • Recreation, sports and fitness program and service directors: 1,595
  • Athletes, coaches, officials and referees: 2,855
  • Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitness: 16,075

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census.

Famous Canadian immigrants

Geraldine Heaney

Geraldine Heaney immigrated to Canada from Northern Ireland and became a pioneer in women’s hockey. She was a member of the Canadian national women’s hockey team in the first 7 Women's World Championships, winning gold each time. She’s a 2-time Canadian Olympian (silver in 1998, gold in 2012). She was also inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Donovan Bailey

Donovan Bailey immigrated to Canada from Jamaica. He won 2 Olympic golds in sprinting for Canada in 1996 with one run recorded as the fastest time ever recorded by a human. He was also inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

Wally Buono

Wally Buono immigrated from Italy to become one of the most legendary coaches in the Canadian Football League (CFL). After playing college football in the United States, he became a linebacker for the Montréal Alouettes. He was head coach and general manager of the Calgary Stampeders and then the BC Lions, where he retired at the end of the 2018 season. Wally’s impressive CFL career spanned a remarkable 46 years.

Bianca Andreescu

Born in Canada to Romanian parents, Bianca Andreescu became the first Canadian woman to win a tennis Grand Slam title at the 2019 U.S. Open Final. She’s currently ranked fifth worldwide by the Women’s Tennis Association.

Denis Shapovalov

Israeli-born Denis Shapovalov is the top-ranking Canadian male tennis player and fifteenth in the world. In 2017, he was named the Association of Tennis Professionals’ Newcomer of the Year and most improved player of the year.

Elvis Stojko

Elvis Stojko, of Hungarian/Slovenian descent, represented Canada at the World Figure Skating competitions. He won titles in 1994, 1995 and 1997. He’s also a 2-time Olympic silver medallist at the 1994 and 1998 Olympic Winter Games. Elvis Stojko was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2011.

Science and technology

Immigration matters in science and technology

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Because of its internationally recognized quality of life and post-secondary educational institutions, Canada attracts talent from around the world to help build the country’s economy and grow the science and technology sector. With an aging Canadian work force and the need for more technology workers, there’s an opportunity for immigrants to make their mark in the field.

“Canada has an opportunity to be a country where the best talent from around the world can move here and do their life’s work as never before.”

Alexandra Clark, Chief of Staff to the Chief Executive Officer, Shopify

Impact of immigration

  • 34% of people working in scientific research and development services across Canada are foreign-born.
  • Nearly 500,000 immigrants working in Canada are trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
  • Immigrants represent 24% of the national workforce but account for 40% of computer programmers, 41% of engineers and more than 50% of all chemists.
  • International students represent 12% of students in the country’s post-secondary education system but account for 27% of all students enrolled in mathematics, computer and information sciences programs and 19% of all students in architecture, engineering and related programsFootnote 2.
  • Many international students enrolled in STEM fields will stay and build their careers in Canada, enhancing our capacity for innovation and helping us build a stronger economy for the future.

Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census.

Percentage of immigrants in STEM occupations
Percentage of immigrants in selected STEM occupations - text version below
Text version: Percentage of immigrants in STEM occupations
  • Computer programmers: 40%
  • Physicists and astronomers: 41%
  • Engineers: 41%
  • Software engineers and designers: 51%
  • Chemists: 54%

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census.

Famous Canadian immigrants

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell immigrated to Canada from Scotland in the late 1800s. He’s famously known as the inventor of the telephone.

Robert Wang

Robert Wang immigrated to Canada from China. He invented the Instant Pot, a versatile smart kitchen appliance with a devoted following.

Mike Lazaridis

Mike Lazaridis, of Greek descent, immigrated to Canada from Turkey. He made a huge impact in the communications sector with his invention of the Blackberry wireless handheld device.

Tobias Lütke

Tobias Lütke immigrated to Canada from Germany and went on to develop Shopify, a multi-channel commerce platform. Headquartered in Ottawa, Shopify currently powers over 800,000 businesses in approximately 175 countries and has processed more than $100 billion in total sales.

Arts and culture

Immigration matters in arts and culture

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Canada is home to a vibrant and lucrative arts and culture sector. Canadian artists, musicians, actors and authors are known around the world. Immigrants play an important role in helping this sector grow and flourish.

“Let me express the hope that Canadians will always remember that immigrants have helped make us the envy of the world.”

Peter Herrndorf, former President and Chief Executive Officer, National Arts Centre

“We don’t all share the same backgrounds, but there are so many things we humans have in common throughout time and space in history: love, families, and the need to belong. Let’s spread empathy and solidarity.”

Sophie Deraspe, award-winning Canadian filmmaker

Impact of immigration

  • There are more than 80,000 immigrants working in professional and technical occupations in arts and culture across the country.
  • 1 in 4 people employed as an artisan or craftsperson in Canada is an immigrant.
  • Over a quarter of theater, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers are immigrants (26% of the total).
  • 29% of independent artists, writers and performers are immigrants.
  • Across the country, there are more than 3,000 businesses in the arts and culture sector owned by immigrantsFootnote 1.

All statistics are from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census.

Percentage of immigrants in creative occupations
Percentage of immigrants in creative occupations - text version below
Text version: Percentage of immigrants in creative occupations
  • Photographers: 22%
  • Graphic designers and illustrators: 24%
  • Painters, sculptors and other visual artists: 24%
  • Artisans and craftspersons: 25%
  • Theater, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers: 26%

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census.

Famous Canadian immigrants

Michael Ondaatje

Author Michael Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka and immigrated to Canada from England. He’s perhaps best known for his novel The English Patient, which was adapted to film and won 9 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. He won numerous literary awards such as the Man Booker Prize and the Giller Prize. He’s also an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Kim Thúy

Author Kim Thúy came to Canada as a refugee from Vietnam and settled in Quebec. A graduate in translation and law, she worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer, restaurant owner and food commentator. She published several acclaimed novels as well as a Vietnamese cookbook. Kim Thúy has received many honors and awards. Her first book, Ru (2009) won the Governor General's Award for French-language fiction and the 2015 edition of Canada Reads. She was named Chevalière of the Ordre national du Québec and Compagne des arts et des lettres du Québec.

Domee Shi

Storyboard artist and director Domee Shi immigrated to Canada from China and studied Animation at Sheridan College. She worked on major animated films for Pixar and was the first woman ever to direct a Pixar animated short, Bao. Set in Toronto, Bao won the Oscar for the Best Animated Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards.

Deepa Mehta

Oscar-nominated film director and screenwriter Deepa Mehta immigrated to Canada from India. Her films include the Elements Trilogy, Fire (1996), Earth (1998) and Water (2005), as well as Midnight’s Children, all of which have gained international recognition. Water was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best International Feature Film category. Mehta was the Creative Executive Producer and one of the Directors for the Netflix Original Series, Leila. She’s the recipient of the Order of Canada, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, the Order of Ontario and more than 15 honorary degrees.

Ins Choi

Actor and playwright Ins Choi immigrated to Canada from South Korea. He’s best known for his award-winning play and television show Kim's Convenience. The show is about a Korean immigrant family who run a Toronto convenience store.

Rohinton Mistry

Born in India, Rohinton Mistry is an award-winning Canadian author, best known for his novels Such a Long Journey, A Fine Balance and Family Matters. He won the Governor General’s Literary Award, Commonwealth Writers Prize, Giller Prize, and Neustadt International Prize, among others. He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2015.

Moshe Safdie

Moshe Safdie is an Israeli-Canadian architect known for designing almost a hundred projects globally. Among his works are the 1967 World’s Fair (Expo ’67), Habitat ’67 (housing complex in Montréal) and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. He was awarded the Gold Medal from both the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada among other accolades. He also became a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2004.

Dan Hanganu

Romanian-born Dan Hanganu was a recognized Canadian architect. His award-winning designs include several Montréal landmarks like the Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archeology and History, HEC Montréal and other residential, institutional and cultural buildings around Québec and internationally. He was recognized by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the Ordre des architects du Québec among others. He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2009.

Mena Massoud

Mena Massoud is an Egyptian-Canadian actor who quickly rose to fame in 2019 for his lead role in Disney’s adaptation of the film Aladdin.

Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur is an Indian-Canadian from Toronto, Ontario, who became a New York Times bestselling author for her debut poetry book Milk and Honey, which sold over a million copies worldwide.

Raffi Cavoukian

Born in Egypt, Raffi Cavoukian is a celebrated children’s singer, author, and advocate. His gold and platinum-selling records include “Baby Beluga”, which has millions of views on YouTube. He founded the Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring in 2015 to advance his work on respecting the earth and children. He became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1983 and received the Order of British Columbia in 2001.

Food services

Immigration matters in food services

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The food services sector is one of the top employers in Canada. There are 1.16 million employees in the sector, an increase of 9% since 2015. But restaurant and other food service businesses still need workers.

As of September 2019, more than 67,000 jobs were unfilled, more than any other main sector of the Canadian economy Footnote 10. In 2019, more than half of Restaurants Canada’s members had trouble finding workers for “back-of-house” jobs Footnote 11. Immigrants will remain an important source of workers for this industry in the years ahead.

Impact of immigration

  • More than 1 out of every 4 workers in the food and beverage sector are immigrants.
  • The food and beverage sector employed 11% of all working immigrants who arrived here between 2011 and 2016, making it the top employer of recent immigrants in Canada.
  • Across the country, immigrants make up more than half (53%) of business owners with paid staff in the food and beverage sector.
  • New immigrants are helping to grow the food services sector. In 2016, more than 3,200 recent immigrants across the country owned a food or beverage business.

Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census.

Percentage of business owners in the food and beverage sector who are immigrants Footnote 1
Percentage of business owners in the food and beverage sector who are immigrants - Text version below
Text version: Percentage of business owners in the food and beverage sector who are immigrants Footnote 1
  • Canada: 53%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 40%
  • Prince Edward Island: 22%
  • Nova Scotia: 39%
  • New Brunswick: 33%
  • Quebec: 37%
  • Ontario: 59%
  • Manitoba: 53%
  • Saskatchewan: 49%
  • Alberta: 59%
  • British Columbia: 61%
  • Yukon: 29%
  • Northwest Territories: 80%
  • Nunavut: n/a

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census

Famous Canadian immigrants

Vikram Vij

Indian-Canadian celebrity chef Vikram Vij is the owner of Vancouver restaurants Vij and Rangoli, as well as My Shanti in Surrey. He’s also an author of 4 books, his most recent being Vij: A Chef’s One-Way Ticket to Canada with Indian Spices in his Suitcase and appeared on such TV shows as Dragon’s Den, Recipe to Riches, Top Chef Canada and Chopped Canada. His culinary work has earned him the BC Food Processors Association’s Rising Star Award and Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Susur Lee

Susur Lee, originally from Hong Kong, is the owner of 3 restaurants in Toronto: Lee, Lee Kitchen and Kid Lee. As a result of his success, Food and Wine Magazine named him one of the Ten Chefs of the Millenium in 2000. He’s also a judge on popular TV shows such as Chopped Canada, Lifetime’s Masterchef Asia and appeared on Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters.

Massimo Capra

Born in Italy, Chef Massimo Capra moved to Toronto in 1982 after working several years in luxury hotels around Europe. He’s now the owner of Rainbow Room in Niagara Falls, as well as Boccone Trattoria Veloce, Boccone Pronto and Capra’s Kitchen, all located in Toronto. As well as a chef, he’s also an author of 2 cookbooks, was the food editor for Canadian Home Trends Magazine and has appeared on the Food Network’s Restaurant Makeover and Chopped Canada.

Michael Smith

Chef Michael Smith was born in the U.S., but now lives in PEI. He has hosted numerous shows on the Food Network such as Chef Michael’s Kitchen, Chef Abroad, Chef at Home, Chef at Large and was a judge on Chopped Canada. He’s also the author of successful cookbooks, owns his own food media production company and was responsible for the team of chefs cooking for Olympians during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. In 2019, Chef Michael Smith was awarded the Order of Canada.

Antonio Park

Chef Antonio Park was born in Argentina to Korean parents and immigrated to Canada in 1990. He’s a well-recognized celebrity chef in Montréal, as the owner of both the Park and Lavanderia restaurants. He also starred as a judge on Chopped Canada.

Dimitrios “Jimmy” Antonopoulos

Dimitrios “Jimmy” Antonopoulos immigrated to Canada from Greece. He’s the founder and owner of the Jimmy the Greek chain of quick-service restaurants, which grew from a single location into a thriving enterprise with more than 55 locations nationwide.

Mike Timani

Born in Lebanon, Mike Timani is the President and CEO of Fancy Pokket Bakery, based in Moncton, New Brunswick. Fancy Pokket is currently Atlantic Canada’s largest producer of pita bread, bagels, flatbreads and tortilla wraps. He’s also Chair of the Food Processing Skills Canada.

Philanthropy

Immigration matters in philanthropy

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The U.S. News and World Report ranked Canada #1 in the world for quality of life in 2019 and 2020 Footnote 7. Our charities and non-profits play a crucial role supporting this high quality of life. Canada’s 170,000 registered charities and non-profits employ about 2 million people Footnote 8.

Thirteen million Canadian volunteers give their time and a portion of their income to support worthy causes in the charitable sector. Nearly 1 in 4 workers in social advocacy, civic, social and giving-related organizations is over 55 and will be retiring in the near future. Newcomers are an important source of workers to ensure the charitable sector continues to thrive across the country.

Impact of immigration

  • More than 1 in 4 people employed in the social assistance sector were born outside of Canada, as were nearly 1 in 5 working in social advocacy, civic, social and giving-related organizations.
  • Between 2006 and 2016 there was a 58% increase in the number of foreign-born social and community service workers.
  • Newcomers are also giving back. On average, immigrants donate more to charity than Canadian-born citizens Footnote 9.
  • When asked why they make financial donations, immigrants said the top 3 reasons were: compassion towards people in need; personally believing in the cause of the charity; and to make a contribution to the community Footnote 9.
  • Hundreds of thousands of immigrants volunteer their time to charitable causes across the country each year.
  • In fact, nearly 40% of immigrants aged 15 and older are volunteers. On average, these people will volunteer 162 hours each year Footnote 9.

Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census.

Increase in the number of immigrants employed in social services and charitable organizations (between 2006 and 2016)
Increase in the number of immigrants employed in social services and charitable organizations - Text version below
Increase in the number of immigrants employed in social services and charitable organizations (between 2006 and 2016)
  • Canada: 39%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 183%
  • Prince Edward Island: 35%
  • Nova Scotia: 43%
  • New Brunswick: 50%
  • Quebec: 74%
  • Ontario: 17%
  • Manitoba: 118%
  • Saskatchewan: 148%
  • Alberta: 75%
  • British Columbia: 23%
  • Yukon: 7%
  • Northwest Territories: 93%
  • Nunavut: 267%

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census

Famous Canadian immigrants

Michael Lee-Chin

Michael Lee-Chin is the Jamaican-Canadian billionaire Founder, President and Chairman of Portland Holdings, a privately held investment company that manages public and private equity and has an ownership interest in a collection of diversified businesses operating globally. The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum is named in recognition of his $30 million gift. His donations to Canadian universities, such as McMaster University and the University of Toronto, and hospitals, such as the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation and the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation, have made a lasting impact. Among his many personal accomplishments, he was awarded the Order of Jamaica and the Order of Ontario and is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates.

Aditya Jha

Aditya Jha is a successful Canadian entrepreneur from India, making philanthropy a large part of his life. He founded the POA Educational Foundation, which funds multiple projects focused on education, entrepreneurship and good governance. For instance, he has funded post-secondary scholarships and promoted education and entrepreneurship in First Nations (Project Beyshick). He is a Member of the Order of Canada.

Andrew Harper

Born in Romania, Andrew Harper lived in Israel, Cuba and the United States before coming to Canada with his wife in 1954. Together, they built a successful fine foods business in Montréal, and then retired there. Upon the death of his wife, he created the Andrew and Carole Harper Tolerance Fund in her memory, and made many donations to benefit organizations in the city, including the MADA Community Centre, the Chez Doris women’s shelter and the Alzheimer Society of Montréal.

Djavad Mowafaghian

Born in Iran, Djavad Mowafaghian is the founder of the Djavad Mowafaghian Foundation, which funds projects to improve the lives of children globally in relation to health, wellness and education. In 2011, his foundation donated $15 million towards building a new centre for brain health research at the University of British Columbia. As a result of his philanthropic work, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Dalai Lama Humanitarian Award, among other distinctions. He’s a Member of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Order of British Columbia.

Mohamad Fakih

Lebanese-Canadian Mohamad Fakih is the President and CEO of the award-winning Paramount Fine Foods restaurant chain, employing more than 2,000 people in Canada and abroad. He also founded the Fakih Foundation to alleviate poverty and advance education for vulnerable communities. Among the many beneficiaries of his philanthropy are the Canadian Cancer Society, Sick Kids Hospital and the Toronto Make a Wish Foundation. Waterstone Human Capital named him the Most Admired CEO in Canada in 2019.

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