World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. The weekly roundup includes research, stories, and events of interest to the Canadian immigration and settlement community. This content has been created by WES and is reproduced here with their permission, in partnership.
Canada recorded a significant population increase of 430,635 residents within a three-month span of July to September 2023, marking the most substantial growth rate (1.1 percent) in history. This is the highest jump since 1957, when the rate grew by 198,000 (1.2 percent) due to the post-war baby boom and an increased flow of refugees following the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. Remarkably, the population growth in the first nine months of 2023 surpassed any annual increase since Canada's Confederation in 1867, bringing the total population to 40,528,396. Migration to Canada, mainly consisting of foreign students and temporary workers, accounted for 96 percent of this population growth, while natural increases (births minus deaths) contributed to the remaining 4 percent. This rapid population expansion has been linked to Canada's escalating housing crisis, with concerns raised about the impact of immigration policies on housing affordability. The Canadian government is considering measures to address these challenges, including immigration policy reforms and strategies to increase housing supply. These measures aim to balance the benefits of population growth, like a larger workforce and cultural diversity, against the strain on infrastructure and public services, especially housing. The government's approach involves adjusting immigration intake, enhancing support for new immigrants, accelerating housing construction, and investing in affordable housing projects. These efforts are part of a broader strategy to ensure economic and social sustainability, aligning population growth with Canada’s long-term objectives for economic productivity, quality of life, social cohesion, and infrastructure development.
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will soon announce reforms to better regulate the expansion of temporary resident programs. As noted above, the number of non-permanent residents in Canada continues to rise, largely through work and study permits, and concerns have emerged. According to Minister Marc Miller, plans are underway to 'rein in' temporary foreign worker programming in addition to changes for international students. Canada continues to grapple with a number of economic challenges including housing shortages. Many economists have pointed to a link between the housing supply crisis and the influx of temporary residents. In order to better support individuals entering the country, in line with current economic conditions, potential reforms may include adjustments to the postgraduate work permit system for international students as well as the temporary foreign worker programs. Canada's population currently stands at 40.5 million, with a significant increase of 313,000 non-permanent residents towards the end of 2023. Further announcements are expected from IRCC in January 2024.
Recently, Canada has witnessed a notable shift in public opinion regarding immigration levels. This change is predominantly attributed to the growing concerns about the housing crisis, affordability, healthcare, inflation, and labour force conditions. Initially, Canada was renowned for its positive stance towards immigration, evidenced by its high ranking in global acceptance indexes. However, the government's plan to substantially increase the number of permanent residents has led to a significant segment of the Canadian population perceiving the country as overly accommodating towards higher immigration levels. Survey data indicates a narrowing gap between those who believe immigration levels are too high and those who disagree. This trend suggests a divergence from the traditionally welcoming attitudes towards increased immigration. The role of media coverage in shaping public opinion, especially in relation to the housing crisis and the portrayal of immigrants, is a critical factor in this shift. The public's association of immigrants exacerbating housing issues poses challenges for policymakers and community leaders. Addressing these changing perceptions is crucial for maintaining a diversified and robust immigration system and ensuring welcoming communities for immigrants. Ensuring sustained public support for immigration while addressing complex societal issues like housing shortages requires a nuanced and compassionate approach.