Recent immigration trends mean millennials now outnumber baby boomers in Canada

Edana Robitaille
Published: February 22, 2024

A new Statistics Canada report has found that for the first time ever, there are more millennials than baby boomers in Canada.

Millennials are currently at their highest demographic weight at 23%. Notably between July 2022 and July 2023, the millennial population in Canada saw an increase of 457,354 “exclusively due to the arrival of permanent and temporary immigrants.”

Measuring the average age of Canada’s population, it was discovered that between July 1, 2022, and July 1, 2023, the average age in Canada fell from 41.7 to 41.6. While this drop may seem insignificant, it is the first such drop since 1958, which was the middle of the baby boom.

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The report credits immigration for the change in demographics. For example, another Statistics Canada release from December 2023 found that between July and December 2023, Canada’s population increased by 430,635 people. Approximately 96% of this growth was due to immigration.

Further, data from 2022 shows that immigrants accounted for 23% of Canada’s total population and that 95.8% of immigrants who arrived in Canada between 2016 and 2021 were under 65 years old and 64.2% were in their core working years (25-64).

Wave of younger immigrants

Immigration levels in Canada have been on the rise for years. Canada welcomed a record-breaking 471,550 new permanent residents in 2023 surpassing the 2022 record of 437,000 new permanent residents. This does not account for the number of non-permanent residents (NPRs) such as international students and temporary foreign workers.

The report found that most NPRs arrive in Canada between the ages of 20-24, meaning that the overall number of people in this age group in Canada accounts for 22% of the total population. One in five people in this age range was an NPR (as of July 2023).

It does not specify the type of visa or permit, but this is the age group most typically associated with international students. According to ICEF Monitor, there were 1,040,985 international students with active study permits in Canada in 2023, an increase of 29% over the previous year.

The recent Statistics Canada report also showed a 6.4% population growth of 30-34 year old’s in Canada, twice as high the growth rate for the overall population (2.9%).

Canada’s aging population

The Atlantic provinces were found to be home to Canada’s oldest population. In particular, Newfoundland and Labrador had the “highest average age (45.7 years) and the highest proportion of people aged 65 years and older (24.4%).”

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were found to have an average population age of 44.4 and 43.8 years respectively.

In contrast, Alberta had a comparatively young population, with an average age of 39.1, while Manitoba and Saskatchewan weren’t far behind at 39.3 and 39.7.

Immigration Levels in Canada

Each year Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) releases an Immigration Levels Plan that outlines the number of new permanent residents the country will welcome for the coming year and sets notional targets for the following two years.

This year Canada plans to welcome 485,000 new permanent residents, and the target will rise to 500,000 for 2025 and stay the same in 2026.

Recent polls have shown that there is some concern among Canadians regarding the high levels of immigration in Canada. However, the Statistics Canada study noted that 18.9% of Canada’s population was aged 65 and older as of July 1 2023 and it is expected to continue rising, resulting in over nine million Canadians over 65 years old (retirement age) by 2030. This, combined with one the lowest fertility rates globally, means that there are not enough Canadians to keep the economy afloat.

As more Canadians retire, there will be fewer workers to pay income taxes over a period of high social spending on healthcare and other supports for seniors. Canada has been increasing the level of immigration for several years to try to fill the gaps left by retirements.

To that end, Canada works to attract young global talent. For example, IRCC offers Post-Graduation Work Permits for international students to incentivize them to stay in the country after they complete their studies and work toward becoming permanent residents.

Further, skilled workers between 20-29 years old who arrive in Canada via an Express Entry managed program receive the maximum number of points for age (100 without a partner or spouse or 110 with one) in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

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