#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 by a small amount every year. If it weren’t for immigrants, employers would have trouble finding enough qualified workers to fill available jobs. This is because Canadians are living longer and having fewer children. More of us are retiring, and there are fewer students in our 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

Canada’s worker-to-retiree ratio is 4 to 1. By 2035, when 5 million Canadians are set to retire, the ratio will be down to 2 to 1, meaning there will be only 2 workers for every retiree.

Text version: Supporting our aging population

In 1971, there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior. Projections put the ratio at 2 to 1 by 2035, meaning fewer people working to support retirees.

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 program are as follows:

  • software engineers and designers
  • information systems analysts
  • computer programmers
  • financial auditors and accountants
  • advertising, marketing and public relations professionals
Text version: Meeting our labour market needs

Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth by creating jobs, attracting investment to Canada and 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 fill labour market needs by taking on jobs that Canadians are not interested in doing.

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 2016 Census, more than 335,000 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.

Canada’s immigration system

How are immigrants selected, screened and set up for success?

Learn more