Report on the Demographic Situation in Canada
Permanent and temporary immigration to Canada from 2012 to 2014

by Laurent Martel and Carol D’Aoust, Demography Division

Release date: July 5, 2016

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Highlights

  • Canada admitted 260,400 immigrants in 2014, one of the highest levels in more than 100 years.
  • The highest immigration rates since 2008 were among the Western provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia), also Prince Edward Island and Yukon, despite annual differences.
  • For a continuous period of at least 70 years, Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, has attracted the most immigrants annually, although the share has fallen over time.
  • The majority of immigrants admitted to Canada from 2012 to 2014 were born in Asia, as has been the case for several decades.

Number of immigrants received:
2012: 257,905 immigrants
2013: 259,024 immigrants
2014: 260,411 immigrants

Immigration rate:
2012: 7.4 per thousand
2013: 7.4 per thousand
2014: 7.3 per thousand

2015 Immigration Plan target:
260,000 to 285,000 immigrants

Main countries of birth (2014):
1 – Philippines
2 – India
3 – China
4 – Islamic Republic of Iran
5 – Pakistan

Net change in non-permanent residents received:
2012: +48,000 people
2013: +54,000 people
2014: +24,700 people

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Introduction

This article presents an analysis of the most recent trends in permanent and temporary immigration to Canada for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Statistics on the number of permanent residents (or immigrants) admitted to Canada, immigration rate, category of admission, country of birth, province or territory of destination, age structure and sex, international adoption and the net change in the number of temporary residents (or non-permanent residents) are described successively and, when available and relevant, are placed in the context of historical and/or international trends.

Differences at the provincial and territorial level are also presented for select indicators.

Data on immigration to Canada come from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The data in this article were extracted in September 2015. IRCC continuously updates its databases, which means that certain statistics presented in this article for a given year may differ slightly from those found in other documents for the same year.Note 1

For more information on historical trends related to the statistics presented in this document, readers are encouraged to consult Canadian Demographics at a Glance (Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 91-003).

Number of immigrants admitted

Canada admitted 257,900, 259,000 and 260,400 immigrants, in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively, in keeping with the framework set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) (Figure 1). These numbers fall within the range of the IRCC’s Immigration Levels Plan, which was 240,000 to 265,000 immigrants for each year since 2007.

Figure 1 Immigration numbers and rates, Canada, 2004 to 2014

Description for Figure 1

This column and line chart shows the number of immigrants and rates for Canada from 2004 to 2014.

The horizontal axis shows the years, the left vertical axis shows the number of immigrants, and the right vertical axis shows the rates, per 1,000.

Data table for Figure 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Immigrants and immigration rate. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Number and Rate per 1,000 (appearing as column headers).
Year Number Rate per 1,000
2004 235,822 7.4
2005 262,243 8.1
2006 251,640 7.7
2007 236,753 7.2
2008 247,244 7.4
2009 252,170 7.5
2010 280,686 8.3
2011 248,747 7.2
2012 257,905 7.4
2013 259,024 7.4
2014 260,411 7.3

IRCC announced in its Immigration Levels Plan that the target range for permanent residents admitted to Canada for 2015 was increased to between 260,000 and 285,000 immigrants.

Immigration rate

The immigration rate is the ratio between the immigrants received in a given year in a given region to the total population of that region. Expressed per thousand, the rate makes it possible to compare regions of different demographic sizes.

The immigration rate was 7.4 per thousand in each of 2012 and 2013 and 7.3 per thousand in 2014 (Figure 1). These rates are relatively high when compared with those of other industrialized countries. They were lower in most European countries and in the United States, which had a rate of 3.1 per thousand in 2013. In contrast, Australia (10.9 per thousand in 2013) often has an immigration rate slightly higher than that of Canada.Note 2

Provincial/territorial variation

Despite annual differences, on average from 2012 to 2014, Manitoba (11.2 per thousand), Saskatchewan (10.2 per thousand), Alberta (9.6 per thousand), Prince Edward Island (8.5 per thousand), Yukon (8.2 per thousand) and British Columbia (7.8 per thousand) have had the highest immigration rates among the provinces and territories. This is a new trend compared with the situation a decade ago when Ontario had the highest rate: the immigration rate has been declining in Ontario since the mid-2000s (11.2 per thousand in 2005 compared with 7.0 per thousand in 2014).

Ontario (7.3 per thousand) and Quebec (6.4 per thousand) were among the other Canadian provinces and territories with an immigration rate close to the national rate (7.4 per thousand), on average, from 2012 to 2014.

The Northwest Territories (3.7 per thousand), New Brunswick (3.1 per thousand), Nova Scotia (2.7 per thousand), Newfoundland and Labrador (1.6 per thousand) and Nunavut (0.5 per thousand) had the lowest immigration rates, on average, during the period from 2012 to 2014.

Destination of immigrants

The province or territory of destination of immigrants analyzed in this article refers to the planned province or territory of destination of individuals migrating to Canada before their migration. The actual location where immigrants settle may differ since immigrants may migrate again within Canada shortly after their arrival.

In the last decade, the number and proportion of immigrants admitted to Canada who settled in Ontario and British Columbia have declined overall in favour mainly of the Western provinces, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, and to a lesser degree, Manitoba and Quebec (Table 1).

For a continuous period of at least 70 years, Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, has attracted the most immigrants annually: in 2012, 2013 and 2014, 99,200 immigrants, 103,600 immigrants and 95,800 immigrants, respectively, settled there.

In the past 26 years, the number of immigrants admitted to Ontario has fallen below the 100,000 mark only four times (in 1998, 2011, 2012 and 2014). The numbers for the last three years are consistent with an overall downward trend over the past decade, since Ontario admitted more than 140,000 immigrants in 2005.

Consequently, the share of immigrants going to Ontario has declined in recent years from 59.3% in 2001 to 36.8% in 2014. The proportion in 2014 was the lowest observed in more than 70 years.

With 55,000 immigrants, 52,000 immigrants and 50,300 immigrants admitted in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively, Quebec ranked second in terms of the number of immigrants received. In the past 40 years, Quebec has often traded second place with British Columbia, which admitted 36,200 new arrivals in each of 2012 and 2013 and 35,200 immigrants in 2014.

Since 2009, one in five immigrants (20.0%) admitted to Canada has settled in Quebec, a proportion generally on the rise since the mid-1990s (12.5% in 1994).

In 2014, British Columbia attracted 13.5% of immigrants to Canada, the lowest level observed in the past 25 years. For the first time since 1954, Alberta attracted more immigrants in 2013 (14.1%) and 2014 (16.3%) than British Columbia (14.0% and 13.5%, respectively). For Alberta, this proportion has almost tripled from the level observed in the mid-1990s (5.9% in 1997).

Although Saskatchewan attracts fewer immigrants than Canada’s most populous provinces, the number has still grown substantially in recent years, totalling 11,800 people in 2014 or 4.5% of all immigrants to Canada. In the early 2000s, Saskatchewan attracted less than 1.0% of all immigrants admitted.

Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have also seen an upward trend in recent years. In 2014, 6.2% of immigrants settled in Manitoba, compared with 1.7% in 1998. For Prince Edward Island, these proportions were 0.6% and 0.1%, respectively.

Categories of admission

The IRPA of IRCC defines three main categories of admission for immigrants to Canada: economic, family reunification and refugees. In addition to these three categories, there is another—other immigrants—which includes, for example, other humanitarian cases, although very few immigrants are admitted in this category.

The economic category includes several programs and sub-categories, notably the skilled workers program, economic programs, the Canadian experience category, investors, provincial candidates, live-in caregivers and dependents of the applicant.

Since 1994, the number of immigrants admitted under the economic category has exceeded that of the other categories. Since 2008, it has accounted for at least 60% of all immigrants admitted to the country, except in 2013, where it was at 57.2%. Since 2012, an average of 158,000 people have been admitted annually under the economic category of Canada’s immigration policy, representing 61.0% of all immigrants admitted during these years (Table 2).

The purpose of the family category of Canada’s immigration policy is to reunite families. This category includes married spouses, common-law partners, dependent children, parents or grandparents and other immediate family members of a permanent resident.

Before 1994, the family category was frequently the most common category of admission of Canadian immigrants. Since 2012, 70,100 people on average, or 27.0% of all immigrants, have been admitted annually under this category of the immigration policy.

The refugee category of Canada’s immigration policy encompasses refugees admitted to Canada, refugees sponsored by the government or the private sector, and their dependents.

Since 1981, this category has accounted for less than 20% of Canadian immigration. Since 2012, the number of immigrants admitted under this category has been 31,000 people, on average, or 11.9% of all immigrants received.

Provincial/territorial variation

In recent years (2012 to 2014), about four in five immigrants admitted to Prince Edward Island (88.4%), Yukon and Saskatchewan (84.4% each) and New Brunswick (80.7%) were admitted under the economic category of the IRPA.

In comparison, this proportion was only 49.5% in Ontario, which stood out more for its high proportion of immigrants (33.9%) admitted under the family category of the IRPA. The situation is similar in British Columbia (34.8%), the Northwest Territories (30.4%) and Nunavut (46.3%).

Lastly, Ontario welcomed the largest number of refugees during this period, 53.4% of all refugees admitted to Canada. These refugees represented 16.6% of all immigrants to Ontario, the second largest proportion among all provinces and territories after Newfoundland and Labrador (17.4%).

Country of birth of immigrants

This section of the article analyzes the country of birth of immigrants.Note 3

The majority of immigrants admitted to Canada from 2012 to 2014 (around 60%) were born in Asia, as has been the case for several decades. Africa and Europe follow with 13.7% and 11.9%, respectively, of immigrants recently arrived in Canada (Table 3).

China and India have both been among the top five countries of birth of immigrants to Canada since 1980, with only a few exceptions (1986 and 1989 for China and 1990 for India). In 2014, 64.3% of immigrants born in China were admitted under the economic category of the immigration policy and 31.6% were in the family category. For India, 69.6% were admitted under the economic category and 28.5% under the family category.

The Philippines have systematically been among the five main countries of birth of immigrants to Canada for almost 30 years, except in 1997 when it ranked sixth. In recent years, a significant proportion of immigrants born in the Philippines were admitted under the economic category of the immigration policy: from 2012 to 2014, on average, this percentage was 84.1%.

China, India and the Philippines together have accounted for more than one-third of all immigrants admitted to Canada over the past 23 years.

Pakistan, Islamic Republic of Iran, South Korea,Note 4 the United States and the United KingdomNote 5 have also been among the top 10 countries of birth of immigrants to Canada for several years. However, immigration from Sri Lanka, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, Taiwan and Poland—countries often represented among the top 10 in the 1980s and 1990s—has declined recently.

Among the other main countries of birth of immigrants to Canada, it is interesting to note two European countries, namely, France and the United Kingdom. In 2014, Quebec was the destination of 79.9% of immigrants from France, while Ontario received 35.1% of immigrants from the United Kingdom. The vast majority (77.3%) of immigrants from these two countries were admitted under the economic category of the immigration policy.

Lastly, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and Cameroon are some of the main recent countries of birth of immigrants from Africa to Canada.

Provincial/territorial variation

Overall, from 2012 to 2014, the proportion of immigrants born on the Asian continent (on average around 60% of immigrants) was higher in Prince Edward Island (80.4%), Saskatchewan (76.2%), British Columbia (74.2%) and Yukon (73.6%), followed by Manitoba (67.9%), Ontario (67.3%), Alberta (67.0%), the Northwest Territories (66.0%) and New Brunswick (65.7%). It was lower in Nova Scotia (54.3%), Newfoundland and Labrador (51.2%), Nunavut (50.0%) and Quebec (27.2%).

Between 14% and 32% of immigrants admitted to Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories were born in Europe during the period from 2012 to 2014, higher than the national percentage (13.7%).

Also for the 2012 to 2014 period, Quebec stands out on account of a significantly higher proportion of immigrants than the national percentage born in: Northwest Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, LibyaNote 6 and Tunisia) (15.5% versus 3.5%), South and Central America, the Caribbean and Bermuda (21.5% versus 13.0%), mainly from Haiti (7.0% versus 1.7%).

Composition by age and sex of immigrants

From 2012 to 2014, just over half of the immigrants admitted to Canada were women (51.7% on average) (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Age pyramid of the immigrant and Canadian population (immigrants included), Canada, 2014

Description for Figure 2

This figure shows the age pyramids of immigrants and the Canadian population (including immigrants), per 1,000 population, by individual year of age and sex for 2014. Data for males are on the left and data for females are on the right. The age pyramid for immigrants is solid while the pyramid for the Canadian population (including immigrants) is a line.

The horizontal axis shows the number of immigrants per thousand and the vertical axis shows the age by single years to age 100 and over.

Data table for Figure 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Age pyramid of the immigrant and non-immigrant population. The information is grouped by Age (appearing as row headers), Males, Females, Immigrants and Canada (appearing as column headers).
Age Males Females
Immigrants Canada Immigrants Canada
0 3.4 5.6 3.1 5.3
1 7.3 5.5 7.1 5.3
2 6.6 5.5 6.4 5.2
3 6.9 5.5 6.3 5.3
4 7.0 5.6 7.0 5.3
5 7.1 5.7 7.1 5.4
6 7.2 5.7 6.9 5.4
7 6.9 5.6 6.6 5.3
8 6.6 5.4 6.2 5.2
9 6.4 5.3 6.1 5.1
10 6.2 5.4 5.7 5.1
11 6.2 5.3 5.8 5.0
12 6.1 5.3 5.4 5.0
13 6.1 5.4 5.4 5.1
14 5.9 5.6 5.1 5.3
15 5.3 5.6 5.0 5.3
16 5.3 5.8 5.1 5.6
17 5.4 6.1 4.7 5.8
18 4.4 6.5 4.5 6.2
19 5.0 6.8 4.8 6.4
20 4.6 7.0 5.2 6.5
21 4.9 7.0 6.0 6.7
22 5.5 7.1 7.5 6.8
23 6.5 7.2 9.0 6.9
24 8.1 7.2 11.9 7.0
25 11.0 7.0 15.7 6.8
26 13.6 6.8 18.0 6.7
27 15.1 6.8 19.5 6.7
28 16.3 6.9 19.7 6.9
29 16.9 7.0 19.8 7.0
30 17.0 7.0 20.6 7.0
31 16.7 7.0 19.9 7.0
32 16.8 6.9 19.7 7.0
33 15.9 7.0 17.9 7.0
34 15.2 6.9 17.0 6.9
35 14.4 6.7 15.0 6.8
36 13.0 6.6 13.3 6.7
37 11.8 6.6 12.2 6.7
38 10.8 6.6 11.3 6.7
39 9.8 6.6 10.4 6.6
40 9.0 6.4 9.0 6.5
41 8.0 6.5 8.3 6.5
42 7.6 6.6 7.6 6.6
43 7.1 6.9 7.3 6.9
44 6.5 6.8 6.6 6.8
45 5.9 6.8 6.0 6.8
46 5.5 6.7 5.1 6.7
47 4.7 6.8 4.5 6.8
48 4.4 7.2 4.2 7.1
49 4.1 7.7 3.8 7.6
50 3.7 7.9 3.5 7.8
51 3.2 8.0 3.4 7.9
52 2.7 7.8 2.7 7.7
53 2.5 7.9 2.8 7.8
54 2.4 7.7 2.6 7.7
55 1.8 7.5 2.4 7.5
56 2.1 7.4 2.3 7.4
57 1.9 7.2 2.2 7.2
58 1.9 7.0 2.5 7.0
59 1.8 6.8 2.5 6.9
60 1.8 6.5 2.4 6.6
61 1.6 6.2 2.0 6.3
62 1.6 5.9 2.3 6.1
63 1.7 5.8 2.1 6.0
64 1.6 5.7 2.2 5.8
65 1.5 5.5 2.2 5.7
66 1.5 5.5 2.0 5.7
67 1.4 5.4 1.8 5.7
68 1.4 4.6 1.5 4.8
69 1.1 4.2 1.5 4.5
70 1.1 4.0 1.3 4.3
71 1.1 3.8 1.2 4.1
72 1.1 3.5 1.1 3.9
73 0.8 3.3 0.8 3.7
74 0.9 3.0 1.1 3.4
75 0.7 2.8 0.8 3.3
76 0.7 2.7 0.7 3.1
77 0.6 2.5 0.6 2.9
78 0.4 2.3 0.5 2.8
79 0.4 2.2 0.4 2.7
80 0.3 2.0 0.3 2.5
81 0.3 1.9 0.2 2.5
82 0.1 1.8 0.2 2.4
83 0.1 1.6 0.2 2.3
84 0.1 1.5 0.1 2.1
85 0.1 1.3 0.1 1.9
86 0.0 1.1 0.1 1.8
87 0.1 1.0 0.1 1.6
88 0.1 0.8 0.1 1.5
89 0.0 0.7 0.0 1.3
90 0.0 0.6 0.0 1.2
91 0.0 0.4 0.0 1.0
92 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.8
93 0.0 0.3 0.0 0.7
94 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.5
95 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.4
96 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.3
97 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2
98 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
99 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1
100 and over 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2

This proportion varies, however, by the category of immigrants: although women account for about half of the immigrants admitted in the economic immigration category (49.4% from 2012 to 2014) and in the refugee category (50.0% for the same period), they represent a much larger proportion of the family reunification category (57.6% from 2012 to 2014).

More than half (51.2%) of all immigrants admitted to Canada from 2012 to 2014 were between the ages of 25 and 44. Almost one in five immigrants was a child between 0 and 14 years (19.2%), 12.1% were aged 15 to 24, 12.8% between 45 and 64 years, and only 4.8% were 65 years or older.

Moreover, the immigrant population is on average younger than the Canadian population overall. For the period from 2012 to 2014, immigrants had a median age of 30.9 years, which was almost 10 years younger than the median age for all Canadians (40.5 years). Despite these differences, immigration alone cannot solve Canada’s inevitable population aging in the coming decades, notably as generations from the baby-boom era born between 1946 and 1965 reach age 65.

International adoption

International adoption often involves long wait times between the administrative formalities and the availability of a child for adoption, but it still gives individuals or couples the opportunity to create a family or add one or more children to their existing family. Regulations may vary depending on the province or territory and can evolve over the years not only in Canada, but in any given country of origin. Overall, international adoptions account for a small percentage of the immigrants arriving in Canada each year. In addition, a new process introduced in 2008 allows children adopted abroad to enter Canada either by way of the traditional immigration channels, or under the new process to be granted Canadian citizenship as soon as they arrive in the country. Recently, the majority of these adoptions have taken place under the citizenship process.

The number of international adoptions has fallen in recent years from 2,100 in 2009 to 1,000 in 2014.

Close to one in five children adopted in Canada were born in China (18.7% on average) for the 2012 to 2014 period, which represents a decline from the 52.0% peak in 2005. Other important countries of adoption include the United States (12.0%), the Philippines (7.2%), Ethiopia (5.3%), Socialist Republic of Viet Nam (4.9%), Russian Federation (4.4%), South KoreaNote 4 (4.1%), Haiti (3.6%), India (3.5%) and Columbia (2.6%). Together, these 10 countries of birth account for two-thirds of all children adopted in Canada.

Temporary immigration (non-permanent residents)

This section analyzes recent trends for non-permanent or temporary residents. Temporary residents are foreigners who are legally in Canada on a temporary basis on account of a valid document (for example, work permit, study permit or temporary resident permit) issued to individuals so that they can enter Canada. This group includes people who seek asylum when they arrive in Canada or afterwards and who remain in the country while waiting for the decision once their application is processed.

The net number of non-permanent residents (difference between persons with non-permanent resident status entering and leaving Canada) can fluctuate considerably from year to year since temporary immigration can, for example, be particularly sensitive to the economic climate or changes to the policies governing it.

The recent period is no exception even though, overall, the net number of non-permanent residents has tended to be high.

In 2014, the net number of non-permanent residents was +24,700 people; in 2013, this number was +54,000 people (Table 4).

The last time there was a negative net number, indicating a decrease in the population of non-permanent residents in Canada, was in 1996: -9,700 people. Between 1997 and 2014, the annual net number has fluctuated between +800 (1997) and +71,600 (2008).

As a result of the positive balance observed over the past 18 years, the estimated non-permanent resident population has increased substantially in Canada, from 234,400 people in 1997 to 770,600 in 2014.Note 7

Provincial/territorial variation

The net number of non-permanent residents can fluctuate considerably in each province and territory from one year to the next. On account of their size, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta often have large fluctuations and a significant impact on the national net numbers.

In Ontario, the net number of non-permanent residents has been declining since 2011, from +22,200 people in 2011 to +11,200 people in 2014. Nevertheless, the average has been relatively stable at about +16,000 people since 2008.

The fluctuation has been much greater in Alberta, increasing from -9,200 people in 2010 to +21,700 people in 2013, before declining again to -4,900 people in 2014. In 2013, the net number in this Prairie province was the highest observed since 2008 (+23,700 people) and the second highest since 1971. However, the negative balance in 2014 was the third lowest since 1972.

Saskatchewan recorded its first negative balance in eight years in 2014 (-400 people). The net number of non-permanent residents also rose recently in Manitoba (+1,300 people in 2014) and in British Columbia (+12,000 people in 2014). In Quebec, an average of +3,700 non-permanent residents has been recorded since 2010.

All of the Atlantic provinces had a positive net number of non-permanent residents in 2014, unlike in 2013, when Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia had negative balances.

As a result of these annual variations, the largest population of non-permanent residents in 2014 was in Ontario, with 307,200 people, representing 2.3% of the province’s population.

Ontario was followed in order by British Columbia (175,300 people), Alberta (113,100 people) and Quebec (110,300 people). As a proportion of the size of the population, British Columbia had the highest proportion of non-permanent residents, representing 3.8% of the province’s population, followed by Alberta (2.8%).

To learn more about immigration trends in Canada

Canadian Demographics at a Glance (Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 91-003).

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Facts and Figures 2014.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. 2014 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration.

Annual Demographic Estimates: Canada, Provinces and Territories (Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 91-215)

Appendix

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