In a groundbreaking report, Statistics Canada has dramatically revised its count of Canada’s non-permanent resident (NPR) population, revealing that it now stands at 2,198,679 individuals. This substantial update, differing by over a million from the 2021 Census figure, signifies a major shift in demographic estimation.
The significance of this report lies in Statistics Canada’s admission of previous undercounting of NPRs, which carries significant implications for various aspects of Canadian public policy, including immigration, economic planning, labor markets, and housing.
The most recent data indicates a staggering 46% year-over-year surge in NPRs in Canada, predominantly attributed to an increase in work and study permits. This spike represents the highest growth rate in NPRs since records began in 1971/72.
As of July 1, 2023, Canada’s overall population reached an estimated 40,097,761, marking a 2.9% increase compared to July 1, 2022. Notably, this places Canada at the forefront of G7 countries in terms of population growth and among the top 20 globally. This substantial growth rate is the highest recorded in a 12-month period since 1957, at 3.3%. If this trend continues, Canada’s population could potentially double within 25 years.
Remarkably, nearly 98% of the population growth from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023, can be attributed to net international migration, with the remaining 2% stemming from the natural difference between births and deaths.
The surge in international migration is largely a result of nearly 470,000 new permanent resident arrivals and a remarkable increase in NPRs by nearly 700,000 individuals. The number of NPRs holding work permits saw an astonishing growth, reaching over 1.4 million in July 2023, representing a remarkable 64% increase from July 2022. This growth is significantly attributed to the influx of Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion of their country.
In contrast, Canada’s fertility rates plummeted to record lows in 2022, with just 1.33 children per woman, down from 1.44 in 2021. Another recent report by Statistics Canada revealed that Canadian women had 20,000 fewer babies between 2018 and 2022.
Statistics Canada has responded to the undercounting issue by revising its methodology for counting NPRs. This includes incorporating family members residing with temporary permit holders and refining the process for counting those who remain in Canada after their temporary permits expire while awaiting Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) review.
The revised figures follow recent reports by CIBC Economics and the C.D. Howe Institute, which pointed out significant undercounting of NPRs in both the annual census and quarterly population growth estimates. CIBC estimated that up to one million NPRs may have been unaccounted for in Canada’s population.
Among Canada’s provinces and territories, Alberta experienced the highest demographic growth rate at 4%, driven primarily by international migration and intra-Canadian migration to the province. Alberta led the nation with a net gain of over 56,000 individuals relocating to the province between July 2022 and July 2023.
Statistics Canada highlights that seven provinces also recorded record population growth, with Prince Edward Island (3.9%), Nova Scotia (3.2%), and New Brunswick (3.1%) leading the way. Newfoundland and Labrador exhibited the lowest growth rate among all provinces at 1.3%.
Ontario and British Columbia both experienced a 3% population increase, while Manitoba (2.9%) and Saskatchewan (2.6%) closely followed suit. Quebec also reported record-high population growth at 2.3%.
Looking ahead, Canada’s immigration plan for 2024-2026 will be announced by the federal government by November 1st, as mandated by Canadian law. Under the current Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025, Canada aims to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents annually by 2025. Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller anticipates that the targets for the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan will either remain in line with the current plan or be revised upward.