Moving Towards a Half-a-Million New Canadians a Year

by Ronalee Carey Law

November 2022

One of the best books I’ve ever read about Canadian immigration is Maximum Canada: Toward a Country of 100 Million. In it, Globe and Mail international affairs columnists Douglas Saunders argues that Canadian immigration policies instituted by Britain led to Canada being underpopulated and deprived it of the critical mass of individuals necessary to create an economic environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship. This led and continues to lead to the ‘out-migration’ of Canada’s best and brightest, with the USA the primary beneficiary.

In his book, Saunders advocates for the increase in Canada’s population to 100,000,000 by 2100. As most immigrants tend to move to cities, the increase in population would allow for a sufficient tax base to create environmentally friendly public transportation systems and well-serviced neighbourhoods.

Saunders’s views are advocated by the Century Initiative, a Canadian charity advocating for an increase in Canada’s population. 

Amidst significant job shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government is moving in the direction espoused by those who think Canada needs more Canadians.  Earlier this month, the government announced its 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan, setting an ambitious target of welcoming 500,000 new immigrants annually by 2025.

Immigration is changing the face of Canada. Recent Statistics Canada data reports revealed that Canada is home to more than 450 ethnic or cultural origins. One in four Canadians is now part of a racialized group. And significantly, 23% of residents have or formerly held permanent resident status.

The majority of the Canadian population supports high levels of immigration, despite concerns about housing shortages and a lack of family physicians. 

I have my quibbles about the Immigration Levels Plan. In particular, I am concerned that Canada plans to decrease the number of government-assisted resettled refugees (23,550 in 2023 to 15,250 in 2025) and will slash the number of individuals accepted based on humanitarian and compassionate considerations (15,985 in 2023 but only 8,000 in 2025.) However, I am pleased that the number of highly skilled workers, including international students selected through the Canadian Experience Class, will significantly increase (82,880 in 2023 to 114,000 in 2025.)