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 39% 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 programs.
  • 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: 39%
  • Physicists and astronomers: 41%
  • Engineers: 41%
  • Software engineers and designers: 51%
  • Chemists: 54%

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census.

See infographic on the impact of immigration on science and technology

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.

Immigrant stories in science and technology

Engineering cleaner water in remote communities

RES’EAU-WaterNET, a program started by Dr. Madjid Mohseni, originally from Iran, has helped 4 First Nations communities lift drinking water advisories and 8 small communities improve the quality of their drinking water.

Introducing new farming techniques to Western Canada

Using solar greenhouse technology, a geologist from China is helping Albertan farmers extend their growing season.

Building opportunities for future Canadian engineers

Once a foreign student in these halls, leading businesswoman Gina Cody has left her mark… and her name… on Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science with a $15 million endowment.

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