Even though the Trudeau government has made no secret of dialling up immigration to historic highs, the latest Statistics Canada figures on population growth are still jaw-dropping. In just three months (from July 1 to Oct. 1), Canada added an extra 430,635 people – only four per cent of which could be attributed to births. For just the first nine months of 2023, Statistics Canada noted that the country had seen a higher level of population growth than “any other full-year period since Confederation in 1867.”
Naturally, you can’t add this many people all at once without it having knock-on effects. And there is good evidence that the immigration surge is a prime contributor to the skyrocketing cost of Canadian housing. It’s also cancelling out almost all of Canada’s post-pandemic job growth. In November, the country added 25,000 jobs, but unemployment went up anyway because so many new immigrants had joined the work force. “Growth in the population continued to outpace employment growth,” wrote the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey.
Canada has always been a high immigration country, and immigration is basically the only thing stopping us from entering a prolonged Japan-style period of demographic decline. But what’s happening now is unlike anything Canada has ever seen. Below, some figures on just how unprecedentedly high immigration has gotten.
If those three months of newcomers founded a new city, it would be Canada’s 11th largest
Say that you carved out an uninhabited piece of Northern Saskatchewan and between July 1 and Oct. 1 you directed every single newcomer to move there and found a new city. By Oct. 2, that would be Canada’s 11th largest metro area; larger than Victoria, Halifax, Windsor or Saskatoon.
More than a few economists have noted that Canada is now essentially bringing in a large city’s worth of people every quarter. “That’s like presto, here’s a new city of London, Ont., created in one quarter. Or almost a new city of Hamilton,” was the analysis of one Scotiabank economist, who also opined “immigration is excessive full stop.”
A huge and utterly record-breaking share of the migrants are non-permanent
Of those 430,635 people, a mere 107,972 are classed as “permanent residents”; the term for a traditional immigrant who moves to Canada with the intention of staying, obtaining citizenship and raising a family.
Almost all of the rest of the 430,635 are “non-permanent” migrants. Which is to say, students, temporary foreign workers and refugee claimants; people who are not Canadian, may never be Canadian, and exist here under a diminished set of rights as compared to citizens.
And this demographic has been utterly exploding. In just two years, Canada’s population of “non-permanent residents” has doubled to 2.5 million. That’s a population larger than all of Atlantic Canada composed of people who cannot vote, are mostly ineligible for government services and can be deported at any time. In the critical words of one analyst, Canada is building a “feudal underclass of temporary workers.”
It’s nearly double what Canada used to bring in per year before Trudeau
In 2014 — the last full year before the election of Justin Trudeau — Canada brought in 260,400 immigrants. And that was really high for the time. As Statistics Canada noted, it was “one of the highest levels in more than 100 years.” The figure easily ranked then-prime minister Stephen Harper as the most pro-immigration conservative leader on the entire planet.
A mere nine years later, 260,000 is a drop in the bucket. At current rates, that would account for just 52 days’ worth of immigration.
It immediately cancels out every federal announcement on housing
Polls are clear that one of the main reasons Canadians are turning against the Trudeau government is because housing keeps reaching meteoric new highs of unaffordability. And so, Trudeau has been spending an inordinate amount of time in recent months flying around the country to promote his Housing Accelerator Fund — a system of providing cash rewards to municipalities that greenlight more housing.
According to the absolute best-case scenario envisioned by Liberal planners, this fund could build 100,000 new homes by 2025. If each of the homes end up being occupied by three people — the average Canadian household size — this means that the Trudeau government’s signature homebuilding policy will only provide enough shelter space for approximately 60 days’ worth of new migrants.
None of our peer countries are doing anything close to this
One particularly telling statistic from last year was that Canada brought in roughly the same raw number of migrants as the United States — a country 10 times the size (and one with far more reasonable real estate prices).
And that’s despite the fact that U.S. net migration is hitting ten-year highs. In almost all of Canada’s industrialized peer countries, immigration is actually being dialled down. Australia recently announced it is cutting its immigration intake in half. The U.K. just announced a plan to “slash migration levels.”
Canada, by contrast, is set to end 2023 with the highest population growth rate in the developed world and it’s not even close. Given that it took just three months for the Canadian populations to surge by one per cent, we could end 2023 with a population growth rate of more than three per cent. To find countries with anything near a three per cent annual growth rate, you typically have to look at high-fertility countries in the poorest corners of sub-Saharan Africa such as Angola or Uganda.