Study: Canada home to almost 1 million temporary residents

Julia Hornstein
Updated: Aug, 23, 2023
  • Published: June 23, 2023

On June 20th, Statistic Canada released a study titled “Non-permanent residents in Canada: a portrait of a growing population from the 2021 Census”. The study looks at characteristics of non-permanent residents by their reason for temporary residence in Canada, based on results from the 2021 Census of Population.

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According to the study, non-permanent residents are becoming a growing share of Canada’s population. Non-permanent residents include temporary foreign workers, international students and asylum seekers, who all have the right to live in Canada temporarily.

In 2021, almost 1 million non-permanent residents (NPRs) were counted in the census, making up 2.5% of Canada’s population.

Of those 1 million, the largest portion of NPRs had a work permit. In 2021, 40.1% of NPRs had a work permit only, and another 14.2% had a study permit on top of their work permit. Further, NPRs with a study permit alone represented 21.9% of all NPRs. Those seeking refugee protection accounted for 15.1% of NPRs.

The remaining 8.7% was a combination of other NPR types, including temporary resident permit holders, family members of NPRs and parent and grandparent super visa holders.

NPRs are younger than the rest of the Canadian population

Overall, 6 in 10 NPRs in the 2021 Census were young adults between the ages of 20 to 34 years. As a comparison, young adults made up 37.3% of recent immigrants and 18.4% of the rest of the Canadian population.

The young age of NPRs is likely due to the fact that most NPRs are work permit and study permit holders, which are individuals most often aged between 20 and 34 years old.

India and China are the top birth places for NPRs

The most common birth places of NPRs were India (28.5%) and China (10.5%), although NPRs came from many different countries. India and China were the top places of birth across most provinces except for Quebec, where France was the most common place of birth for NPRs (20.4%).

For asylum seekers, Nigeria was the most common place of birth (10.7%), followed by India (8.3%) and Mexico (8.1%). This varied quite a bit from province to province. In Ontario, Nigeria (15.4%) was the top place of birth, while in Quebec it was Haiti (17.6%) and in British Columbia it was Iran (29.8%)

Most non-permanent residents know an official language

The wide source countries of NPRs lead to a linguistic richness and diversity in Canada. However, the vast majority (95.3%) of NPR’s had knowledge of an official language.

Almost all NPRs with a study permit (97.7%) and with a work and study permit (99%) reported knowledge of English or French. The proportion was still high for asylum claimants (86.7%).

Outside of Quebec, the knowledge of English was high (94.8%), while only 4.6% knew French. Within Quebec, 68.4% of NPRs knew French.

Labour force participation was high among non-permanent residents

Canada has an aging population, declining fertility rate and labour shortages. Therefore, Canada relies on NRPs to stimulate economy and fill job vacancies.

The labour force participation rate of NPRs was 74.2%, which was higher than the rest of the population (63.4%). However, the young age of NPRs likely explains this difference.

Sales and service occupations were the top occupations of all NPR’s aged 15 years and over. More than one third (36.4%) of NPR’s worked in sales and service occupations, compared with one quarter (25%) of the rest of Canada’s population.

In comparison, the occupation profiles of asylum claimants were much more unique. These NPRs were more often in trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations (23.9%), manufacturing and utilities occupations (12.3%) and health occupations (11.7%).

Skills are more commonly being under-utilized in non-permanent residents

NPRs had higher educational attainment on average compared to the rest of the population but were more often in occupations that did not require formal education (23.7%) than the rest of the population (15.7%).

In 2021, 32.4% of NPRs with a bachelor degree or high were overqualified for the position they were currently in, while this was the case for only 26.2% of recent immigrants and 15.9% for the rest of the Canadian population.

Further, whether the bachelor’s degree or higher degree was obtained in Canada or abroad made little difference in the over-qualification of NPRs. The rates of over-qualification were quite similar, with foreign credentials at 34% and domestic credentials at 28.1%.

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