For the first time in its history, Canada’s population grew by more than a million people in 2022, nearly completely as a result of a spike in immigrants and temporary residents, according to Statistics Canada on Wednesday.
To reach 39.57 million, the total population increased by a record 1.05 million individuals in the year leading up to January 1, 2023, with international migration accounting for roughly 96% of the increase.
The increase, which helped Canada retain its position as the fastest growing G7 country, translates to a population growth rate of 2.7% and such a rate would lead to the population doubling in about 26 years, the agency said.
Canada depends on immigration to drive its economy and support an aging population, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government sharply ramped up immigration since taking power in 2015.
Ottawa has also been running special schemes to temporarily take in people impacted by crises like the Ukraine war, instability in Afghanistan, or the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
In 2022, Canada welcomed 437,180 immigrants and the number of non-permanent residents increased by a net 607,782 people. Both figures are highest levels on record and reflect “higher immigration targets and a record-breaking year for the processing of immigration applications,” Statscan said.
The agency counts both permanent and non-permanent residents in addition to net new births in calculating population figures.
Canada has been experiencing an upward trend in total employment since September, and the statistics agency has previously said that non-permanent residents are a notable contributor to that gain.
Immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada’s labor force growth and by 2036 immigrants are projected to be about 30% of Canada’s population, up from 20.7% in 2011, according to Canada’s immigration ministry.
Under a three-year plan announced in November, the Trudeau government wants to continue increasing annual immigration targets, with a goal to grant permanent residency to 465,000 people in 2023 and increasing that goal to 500,000 people by 2025.