#ImmigrationMatters: Canada’s immigration track record

#ImmigrationMatters: Canada’s immigration track record


Read what the research says about how Canada’s immigration system works for all of us.

Immigrants contribute to the economy and create jobs for Canadians

The strength of Canada’s economy is measured in part by the number of people working (known as the labour force) and paying taxes to fund our public services, such as health care.

Thanks to immigration, Canada’s labour force continues to grow every year. While funds for public services are vital, welcoming immigrants is important in helping employers find qualified workers to fill available jobs. This is because Canadians are living longer and having fewer children. More people are retiring, and there are fewer students in schools. As a result, the pool of Canadian-born existing and potential workers is limited.

Immigrants contribute to our economy, not only by filling gaps in our labour force and paying taxes, but also by spending money on goods, housing and transportation.

Supporting our aging population

The income tax paid by working Canadians pays for health care, education and other vital services. In 1980, there were roughly 6 workers for every retiree. In 2015, there were 4 workers for every retiree. By 2030, when 5 million Canadians are set to retire, the ratio will be down to only 3 workers for every retiree.

Without immigrants to help offset the trends of an aging population, Canada would not be able to offer the same level of services to its residents into the future.

Immigration alone cannot solve this challenge, but it can help as we look to keep our economy growing and maintain our commitments to health care, public pensions and other social programs. More than 80% of the immigrants we’ve admitted in recent years are under 45 years old, meaning they will have plenty of working years in Canada.

Meeting our labour market needs

Some employers are already having trouble finding Canadian-born workers to fill jobs. More than 6 in 10 immigrants are selected for their positive impact on our economy. The top 5 occupations of people invited to immigrate under our Express Entry programs are as follows:

  • software engineers and designers
  • information systems analysts
  • computer programmers
  • financial auditors and accountants
  • advertising, marketing and public relations professionals

Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth by

  • creating jobs
  • attracting investment to Canada
  • driving innovation

Many immigrants have excellent science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills, and they make up about half of all STEM degree holders in Canada. These skills are important in our knowledge economy.

For immigrants to find work here, it’s important to make sure their education, training and experience meet Canadian job standards. We are working with employers, provinces and territories to make this happen as quickly as possible.

Immigrants can also satisfy labour market needs by filling jobs in sectors or positions where employers struggle to find workers.

Filling temporary labour needs

Temporary foreign workers are an important part of the Canadian workforce. They help employers meet labour needs when qualified Canadians or permanent residents aren’t available.

Temporary workers support the success and growth of many industries, such as agriculture and agri-food, health care and technology.

In 2019, about 400,000 people were issued temporary work permitsFootnote 1. Workers are thoroughly screened to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians.

Sustaining Canada’s education system through international students

International students contribute more than $21 billion to the economy every year through student spending and tuition. Their spending amounts to more than Canada’s exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraftFootnote 2.

International education is an essential pillar of Canada’s long-term competitiveness. Students from abroad who study in Canada expose Canadians to new cultures and ideas. This stimulates innovation and develops important cross-cultural competencies. If these students choose to immigrate to Canada, they contribute to Canada’s economic successFootnote 3. In 2019, 827,586 international students held study permits in CanadaFootnote 4, and more than 58,000 former international students immigrated permanently.

International students representFootnote 5:

  • 27% of all students enrolled in math, computer and information sciences programs
  • 19% of all students enrolled in architecture, engineering and related programs

Many students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields will stay and build their careers in Canada. They will help us build a stronger economy for the future.

Boosting trade

Many immigrants are entrepreneurial. Beyond creating jobs for Canadians, immigrant-owned businesses improve trade ties to Canada.

Immigrants often have a desire for goods from their home country, which broadens the variety of imports available to all Canadian consumers. Immigrants are also able to export more because of their networks in their home countries.

Immigrants deliver and improve our health and social services

Because many immigrants are young and economically active, they contribute more than they receive in benefits over their lifetime.

According to the 2021 Census, more than 468,000 immigrants work in health-related occupations.

Immigrants are thoroughly screened and respect our laws

We thoroughly screen immigrants before they arrive to make sure they have not committed serious crimes, don’t pose a security risk and are in good health.

Immigrants who don’t respect our laws risk losing their immigration status and being removed from Canada.

Immigrants settle in communities across the country

According to the 2016 Census, the number of immigrants settling in small and midsize communities is growing.

Immigration in the Prairies and Atlantic Canada has more than doubled in the last 15 years.

The Government of Canada is promoting Francophone immigration to help Francophone minority communities thrive.

In 1997, only about 1 in 10 economic immigrants settled outside Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. By 2017, this number had grown to almost 4 in 10.

Immigrants integrate fully into Canadian society

Immigrating to Canada is an adjustment at first, but with time, immigrant voting rates, sense of belonging and earnings match those of Canadians.

Canada has one of the highest naturalization rates in the world. About 85% of newcomers become citizens.

Making a living

Overall immigrant and refugee earnings match the Canadian average about 12 years after arrival. However, some economic immigrants (those selected for their Canadian experience or nominated by a province or territory) catch up much more quickly, within their first year here.

Community participation

Immigrants are active in Canadian society. In 2016, one-third of immigrants volunteered and two-thirds were members of social organizations.

Becoming Canadian

Everyone between the ages of 18 and 54 at the time they apply for citizenship must take the citizenship test. This test makes sure immigrants know about Canada, its history, and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

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