Immigrants And International Students Helped Canada’s Population ‘Rebound’ Following Pandemic

Q1 Report Shows Immigration’s Role In Restoring Canada’s Population

In 2020, Canada’s efforts to grow its population took a major hit following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, new data from RBC shows that the population has recovered significantly during the first quarter of 2021 – and that immigration played a pivotal role.

RBC recently published data surrounding population growth in Canada for the first three months of the year. The report, written by Senior Economics Andrew Agopsowicz, called Canada’s population growth “strong,” explaining that it “rebounded” following disappointment in 2020.

During the first quarter of 2021, Canada’s population increased by 82,000. RBC explains that a huge part of this increase comes from immigration. The federal government had pushed for temporary residents to apply for permanent residence.

International students also played a significant role in getting Canada’s population growth back on track. There were 21,000 new study permits issued, showing a 44 percent year-over-year increase. Additionally, there were 24,000 new post-graduate work visas created, showing a 160 percent increase. Previously, Canada’s population of international post-secondary students had fallen by 60,000 in 2020.

Despite the strong growth demonstrated in the early months of 2021, the pandemic’s impact on Canada’s population are still being felt. RBC explains that the pandemic “amounts to a lost year in terms of Canadian population growth.” Year-over-year growth was 0.4 percent, falling short of what would be required for sustainable growth: 2.1 percent.

The ‘natural increase’ in population – meaning births minus deaths – was the lowest it had been in recorded history. RBC explains this is probably due to the high level of deaths caused by COVID-19 and population aging.

“Even as COVID-19 subsides, the natural increase is likely to continue to decline into the future leaving immigration to make up the shortfall,” Agopsowicz wrote. “This puts even more of a spotlight on the federal government’s execution of its immigration plan.”

Considering the report’s results, it’s likely that a larger focus will be placed on immigration as Canada continues to try to repair its population growth. However, Canada is falling short of its goal to bring 401,000 new immigrants to Canada in 2021.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced plenty of initiatives to reach this goal, or at least come close. For example, IRCC has placed focus on inviting Express Entry candidates to apply for permanent residence – data shows that a record-breaking 88,000 candidates were issued invitations.

Still, time will tell whether Canada can get back on track with both its goals pertaining to immigration and the population at large.