CTV News – Canada’s Non-Permanent Resident (NPR) population experienced unprecedented growth in 2023, marking a significant demographic shift. Statistics Canada (StatCan) reported that in 2023, Canada’s NPR population increased by over half a million, the strongest annual growth in at least five decades. This surge resulted in a total of 2.5 million NPRs by October 2023, a significant increase from 1.7 million the previous year. This growth rate is three times higher than the peak of around 170,000 seen in 2018 and 2019.
The 2023 NPR growth is partly attributed to the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions and an increase in work and study permits processed by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Additionally, StatCan’s updated methodology for estimating NPR population data contributed approximately 5% to this growth.
Jeffrey Reitz, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, noted that the federal government’s support for increased immigration reflects economic benefits. The Liberal government, following recommendations from a committee largely comprising business leaders and economists, has been actively promoting immigration to boost Canada’s economic growth.
Importance of NPR to Canada’s Population Boom
National Bank of Canada’s report in June described NPRs as increasingly vital to the country’s population boom. Since 2014, Canada has led the G7 in population growth, averaging about 1.2% per year, as shown by OECD data. Notably, 96% of Canada’s domestic population increase comes from permanent or non-permanent immigration.
StatCan’s 2021 census data analysis indicates that NPRs are generally younger, more educated, and more likely to participate in the labor force than the rest of the Canadian population. The top countries of origin for NPRs include India, China, France, and the Philippines. The number of NPRs with work permits has seen significant growth, with 1.6 million people holding work permits in the recent quarter.
The sudden increase in NPRs poses challenges for both existing Canadian residents and newcomers. Low-wage employment among NPRs can affect the income of low-skilled Canadian workers, as indicated by a study from StatCan, Brock University, and Western University. In response to criticisms and challenges, federal officials signal a potential slowdown in NPR growth. Plans include maintaining a target of 500,000 permanent residents per year by 2025 and 2026 and adjusting the number of new permanent residents for sustainable program implementation. Additionally, plans to double the financial requirements for international students in 2024 aim to protect them from financial vulnerability and exploitation.
Canada’s record growth in NPRs in 2023 highlights both the potential benefits and the challenges of managing a rapidly changing demographic landscape. While this growth supports economic development, it also necessitates careful policy planning and management to ensure sustainable integration and protection of both NPRs and the existing workforce.