Statistics Canada has just released a major report that changes how it counts Canada’s non-permanent residents (NPRs).
According to the latest population estimate, NPRs account for 2,198,679 people in Canada. A difference of over one million from Census 2021.
The report is significant because Statistics Canada acknowledges that it previously undercounted the country’s NPR population. The revised methodology has significant implications for Canadian public policy in a variety of areas, including immigration, economic and labour market planning and housing, among other important areas.
Canada’s population now stands at nearly 40.1 million people
The latest data shows a 46% year-over-year increase in NPRs in Canada. The majority of growth comes from an increase in work and study permits. It is the highest growth in NPRs since records began being kept in 1971/72.
The country’s population was estimated at 40,097,761 on July 1, 2023, an increase of 1,158,705 people (+2.9%) from July 1, 2022 and nearly 100,000 more than the milestone of 40,000,000 reached in June 2023.
This means Canada continues to lead G7 countries for population growth and is among the top 20 countries for population growth globally. The latest number shows the highest population growth rate recorded for a 12-month period since 1957 (+3.3%). Statistics Canada estimates that if the rate of population growth seen this past year remains constant in the future, it would lead to the Canadian population doubling in 25 years.
The report notes that close to 98% of the growth in the Canadian population from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023, came from net international migration, with 2% coming from the difference between births and deaths.
The large growth from international migration is due to nearly 470,000 new permanent resident landings, and an increase in the number of NPRs by almost 700,000 people.
The number of NPRs holding a work permit was estimated at over 1.4 million people in July 2023, up 64% compared to the nearly 870,000 people in July 2022. Statistics Canada notes that much of this growth can be attributed to the arrival of Ukrainians following the invasion of their country by Russia.
Fertility rates in Canada reached record-low levels in 2022, with 1.33 children per woman, compared with 1.44 in 2021. Another recent report by Statistics Canada found that between 2018 and 2022, Canadian women had 20,000 fewer babies.
Statistics Canada’s revised approach to counting non-permanent residents
Statistics Canada constantly revises its demographic estimates to provide the most accurate numbers as possible. It now includes family members living with temporary permit holders in Canada. In addition, it has adjusted its methodology to better count those still in Canada after their temporary permit expires, but who are waiting for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to review their extension application.
The Statistics Canada update comes following recent reports by CIBC Economics and the C.D. Howe Institute that found both the Statistics Canada annual census and the quarterly estimate of population growth were significantly undercounting NPRs such as students, temporary foreign workers, and temporary residents (TR).
CIBC estimated there could be as many as one million NPRs not accounted for in Canada’s population. It also noted that data from the 2021 census suggests that there were just under 925,000 NPRs in Canada, while the quarterly estimate suggested the count was 1.17 million.
Alberta grew the most
Alberta experienced the fasted demographic growth among all of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories, increasing by 4%. This growth is largely thanks to international migration and the increase in people from other parts of Canada moving to the province. Alberta led Canada with over 56,000 more people moving to the province than leaving it between July 2022 and July 2023.
Statistics Canada notes that seven provinces also experienced record population growth: Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.
Prince Edward Island (3.9%), Nova Scotia (3.2%), and New Brunswick (3.1%) all enjoyed strong population growth, while Newfoundland and Labrador (1.3%) had the lowest growth among all the provinces.
Ontario and British Columbia grew by 3% each, while Manitoba (2.9%) and Saskatchewan (2.6%) came close behind.
Quebec also experienced a record-high population growth of 2.3%.
Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026
Under Canadian law, the federal government is required to announce its immigration plan by November 1st during non-election years. As such, we will learn about Canada’s new permanent residence targets by early November. Under the current Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025, Canada is looking to welcome 500,000 new permanent residents annually by 2025. The federal immigration minister Marc Miller recently said he expects Immigration Levels Plan 2024-2026 targets to either remain in line with the current plan, or be revised higher.