This month Statistics Canada published the results of the 2006 national census, detailing the demographic shifts in the nation over the past five years. The tale told by the figures is one where immigration is key to Canada’s future growth.
With the Canadian birth rate continuing a declining trend, immigration already accounts for a significant portion of Canadian population growth. Over two thirds of Canada’s population growth (now having reached 31.6 million total residents) over the past five years can be accounted for by immigration. Thanks to the 1.2 million immigrants who have made Canada their home in that time, Canada benefited from the highest population growth among the Group of Eight (G8) industrial nations. This population growth has helped Canada to compete in the global economy, fuelling economic growth at a healthy rate.
Canada’s reliance on immigration as a source of population growth is expected to become even greater over time. Canada’s natural birthrate is at an average of 1.5 children per woman, well below the replacement rate – the birthrate that is necessary to keep the population stable – of 2.1 children per woman. By the year 2030, the census suggests that the entirety of Canada’s population growth will come from immigration.
The importance of immigration to Canada’s future is highlighted by ongoing skills shortages facing businesses across Canada. With growing businesses in Canada seeking employees at a variety of skill levels, immigration is an important source of Canada’s competitive advantage. Driven by this demand, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) raised the target for new permanent residents to Canada by 15,000 for 2007, reaching 265,000 at the upper end of the range.
In order to encourage immigration to fuel growth in Canada, the Canadian government has developed several ways to speed the process of arriving in Canada for potential new Canadians. One such method is through temporary work permits, which allow the holder to arrive and work in Canada within a matter of weeks, in some cases for up to 24 months. Another path is through the Provincial Nominee Program, which allows individuals with job offers from Canadian employers in certain occupations in high demand to receive priority processing in their applications for Permanent Residency. Most of these opportunities are associated with finding a job in Canada.