Canada’s population grew by more than a million last year, the highest growth rate in decades

Canada’s population grew by more than a million last year, the highest growth rate in decades

If rate stays consistent, population could double in 25 years

Canada’s population increased by more than 1.1 million, or 2.9 per cent, since July last year, a growth rate that Statistics Canada says is the highest ever for a 12-month period since 1957.

In 1957, the population increased by 555,000 people, or 3.3 per cent, due to the Hungarian refugee crisis and it being the height of the baby boom, the agency said.

“If the rate of population growth seen this past year remained constant in the future, it would lead to the Canadian population doubling in 25 years,” said a report released by Statistics Canada on Sept. 27. “Close to 98 per cent of the growth in the Canadian population from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023, came from net international migration, with two per cent coming from the difference between births and deaths.”

The large increase in immigration comes as the country tries to tackle a housing crisis. Aside from encouraging developers to build more houses, the government could consider placing a cap on the annual number of international students, Housing Minister Sean Fraser said in August, although no such plan has been drafted yet.

But Canada is also hoping to bring in 500,000 permanent residents annually from 2025 onward. Some economists are warning the government might struggle to meet that target if it doesn’t improve amenities such as housing and medical care.

A Toronto-Dominion Bank report in July said the housing shortage could widen by an additional 500,000 units within two years if immigration levels continue at their current rate.

The number of non-permanent residents in Canada, which include foreigners who either have a work or study permit in Canada and their family members, or someone who has claimed refugee status has increased by 46 per cent in the past year, according to Statistics Canada’s estimates. It’s the largest-ever year-over-year increase based on comparable data available to the agency.