Canada enjoyed its first population growth since the pandemic started as Canadian immigration recovered towards pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2021, a report by RBC Economics has found.
The return of international students to Canada, as well as an increased number of post-graduate work visa holders, accounted for the majority of the population growth, the report stated.
Canadian population rose by 82,000 in the first quarter of this year, with immigration being the sole source of the increase.
The population increase occurs following the Canadian Federal Government’s efforts to encourage temporary residents to apply for permanent residency in Canada, as part of the country’s drive to welcome 1.2 million new permanent residents by 2023.
New study permits for international students and Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) visas increased by 44 per cent from the previous year. In comparison, the international student population in Canada fell by almost 60,000 last year, as borders were closed for overseas travel due to the pandemic.
In the first three months of this year, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued around 21,000 international student visas.
Over the same period, about 24,000 post-graduate work visas were issued by IRCC – a staggering increase of 160 per cent from the last year.
Although Canada’s population grew by only 0.4 per cent, it is still seen as an improvement, given current circumstances. To sustain its growth, Canada requires a population growth at a rate of 2.1 per cent.
IRCC welcomed more than 70,000 new permanent residents to Canada in the first quarter of 2021, with another 21,105 invitations rolled out in April.
To meet its current immigration goals, Canada will have to admit more than 38,600 new permanent residents to the country every month till December of this year.
To make sure these numbers are met, IRCC has already invited more than 88,000 Express Entry candidates to apply for Canadian PR in the first half of 2021.
In addition, Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino also introduced several new pathways to Canadian residency for essential workers and refugees earlier this year.
Canada, having an aging population and a low birth rate, needs to rely on immigration to maintain the country’s population growth, especially since around 9 million baby boomers are set to reach retirement age in this decade alone, leaving Canada’s workforce in desperate need of fresh additions to allow the country to remain competitive in the world market.