Migration sees record Canadian population growth

Canada's population grew by a record 1.05 million last year, almost all of it as a result of immigration, according to official figures published on Wednesday.

A couple overlooking the city of Calgary, Canada

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The nation's total population had reached 39,566,248 by 1 January, Statistics Canada reported, representing a 2.7 per cent increase over 12 months.Immigration accounted for 95.9 per cent of the increase, which meant that Canada's population had grown by more than a million residents in a year for the first time in the country’s history.

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Immigration takes pressure off Canada's labour shortages

Increased immigration “is related to efforts by the government of Canada to ease labour shortages in key sectors of the economy,” said Statistics Canada.The agency added: “High job vacancies and labour shortages are occurring in a context where population ageing has accelerated in Canada and the unemployment rate remains near record low."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has been promoting pro-immigration policies since coming to power in 2015, announced late last year that the nation hoped to attract 1.5 million immigrants by 2025.In addition to 437,180 migrants who arrived in Canada on work visas last year - more than a quarter of them from India - the country has also opened itself up to people fleeing the war in Ukraine and the upheavals in Afghanistan.To date, more than 600,000 Ukrainian applications for resettlement have been approved with another 300,000 in the pipeline."While other developed nations grapple with slowing population growth, Canada has the fastest growing population of any G7 nation," CNN reported."Canada ranks highest on Gallup’s Migrant Acceptance Index, and Gallup data released on 7 December last year found that Canadians are consistently among the most likely in the world to see their communities as good places for migrants to live."

'Positive conversations' about immigration

Prof Randall Hansen, a global migration specialist at the University of Toronto, told the BBC that the debate around immigration tended to be more positive in "settler" countries such as Canada, than in Western Europe."Canadians would love to have the world believe they're more open, liberal and accommodating - but this is all nonsense," he said.Instead, he maintained the nation's positivity towards migration was due to factors such as its firm control of borders, an ability to select the "best and brightest" migrants, and relatively few spatial constraints around major cities.Prof Hansen added that Canada had shaped its "national identity" around the idea of multiculturalism in part to differentiate itself from attitudes in the US.

Increased demand for housing?

However, in a statement, Statistics Canada warned of potential future challenges should the 2022 surge in migration continue.“A rise in the number of permanent and temporary immigrants could also represent additional challenges for some regions of the country related to housing, infrastructure and transportation, and service delivery to the population,” said the agency, adding that Canada's population would double in about 26 years' time if the growth rate seen in 2022 continued.Mr Trudeau is also facing political pressure from opponents over migration levels, mainly as a result of a sharp increase of people crossing illegally into Canada from the US.

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