Reports

March 20, 2024

Our Journey to a Prosperity-Driven Immigration Strategy: Lessons and Insights from Our Research Into Canadian Immigration

In 2022, the federal government announced its intentions to increase immigration targets, with the stated goals to fill labour shortages and gaps created by an aging population. While Canada has long been seen as an attractive place for newcomers, and bringing in more newcomers will make the country bigger, it won’t necessarily make everyone better off.

Catalyzed by that announcement, we began a long journey to understand how immigration could be prosperity-driven—how Canada can deliver better outcomes for newcomers, for the economy, and for Canadians en masse.

Our journey was split into two phases: Phase One examined Canada’s current approach to immigration. Phase Two, which will develop a vision for a model immigration strategy and an action plan to realize it, will be released in Spring 2024.

In this report, we recount our journey through Phase One, uncovering key lessons and insights into Canada’s approach to immigration. Over nine months—and seven major publications—we dove deep to understand:

  • how immigration is core to the ethos and success of Canada;
  • who is immigrating to Canada and the pathways they take toward permanent residency;
  • how immigration policy has evolved since Confederation;
  • how the provinces’ role in immigrant selection has evolved;
  • the barriers that newcomers face upon landing and through settlement;
  • Canada’s ability to absorb and support a rapidly growing population; and
  • how the labour market, particularly in Alberta, has shifted and what skills, occupations, and education requirements are most in demand.

Background

Between 2024 and 2026 Canada is expected to welcome 1.5 million new residents, as part of the federal government’s goal to increase immigration targets. The stated purpose of this increase is economic: newcomers will fill labour shortages to grow the economy and help support an aging population.

With the federal government’s new targets, immigration will account for nearly all of Canada’s population growth and all the workforce growth between now and 2036. That means that almost 30% of the population and 37% of the workforce will be immigrants.

While immigration will certainly help make Canada’s economy bigger, it will not necessarily or automatically make Canadians wealthier. Projections show that while Canada is expected to see very tepid economic growth, it will lag in economic growth per capita. And with additional cracks in the system, urgent changes are needed to ensure immigration remains a source of strength and growth for Canada.

Explore more in our Prosperity-Driven Immigration for Canada project here.

 

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