Why does Canada accept so many immigrants?

There is little doubt that Canada has a particularly welcoming attitude to newcomers, especially compared to the southern neighbor (the USA). The current arrivals rate (per capita) is 0.7% per year, whereas, in the USA, it is currently 0.3% (per capita).there are different reasons why this has occurred. In the following piece, I will try to explain Why does the nation accept so many arrivals?

Why Does the Country Accept so Many Migrants?

Canada has a large landmass and vast reserves of raw materials such as metals, oil, and lumber. The country also has a population that is perhaps not large enough to exploit those resources fully. This has lead to frequent labor shortages and has usually dealt with the problem by encouraging more migrants. These have included recruiting Chinese workers to come and build the Canadian Pacific Railway, British and European Farmers to develop agriculture, and currently, workers to build the oil sands projects in the province of Alberta.

Another important consideration (share by many western nations) is that the country has a meager birth rate (currently standing at just 10.3 births for every 1,000). This means that there are fewer workers available to pay taxes to support the increasing number proportion of older citizens. One of the aims of an increase in incomers is to add to the workforce to correct this imbalance.

This theory on the dangers of population decline is not universally held. Some believe that a reduced workforce would benefit from an increased per capita income because they would share the existing income among fewer workers. They further claim that those who have arrived between 1987 and 2004 have only paid 57% of the tax paid by the general Canadian population. This means that the cost to the Canadian government of providing services to them is not met by the taxes they produce and that, in fact, there is an annual deficit of $23 billion.

This argument was based on a 34% unemployment rate for migrants (2001 figures). However, the Canadian Labor Force Survey (2018) shows just a 5.7% unemployment rate amongst immigrants.

This argument was looked at again by the Economic Council of Canada, who investigated the Policy and came to the decision that they were not convinced that they needed to bring in workers for the country to prosper.

It that there was a marginal economic benefit to the country and a significant benefit to the immigrants with continued immigration and that it would, therefore, recommend continued immigration so that Canada’s population was eventually to be increased to 100 million.

History about immigration in Canada

The Great Migration of Canada (1815 to 1850)

We will commence our look at the history of arrivals in Canada with the period called the “Great Migration.” During this time, some 800,000 hopefuls arrived from the British Isles. This movement was driven by demand from Canada for labor to develop the new colonies and support the infrastructure.

Countering American Encroachment(1890 to 1920)

Despite the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, there was a feeling that the land in the West was not being populated fast enough to counter a large number of Americans crossing the border and settling there and lead to the territory being absorbed into the USA. .The response was in 1896 was to launch a settlement program from the UK and other European countries. Offices were established, and advertising published. This resulted in a massive wave of arrivals that populated new towns along the tracks of the railway.

Post Second World War (1946 to 1960s)

This fourth wave also included many Italians and Portuguese. In fact, the Italians became the third-largest group to arrive during that period. This made Canada a more multi-ethnic nation with eastern and Southern Europeans heading for rural farmlands and British hopefuls preferring a more urban life. With increased numbers of non-British (or French) ex-pats arriving, the government began to create “Canadianization policies ” for those without a British background.

The final Wave of Immigration (the 1970s to Today)

Since the 1970s, emigration to the country has been mostly from the developing world. Most immigrants now come from South Asia, China, and the Caribbean.

Who Controls Immigration in Canada?

Canada is an immense landmass with a relatively low population. Controlling the numbers coming in has been used as an essential tool in the growth and management of the population over its history. The policies began as “Open Border” and have now become one that is possibly discriminatory.

Immigration is one of the aspects of government in Canada that is called a “Concurrent Power,” that is to say, it is managed by both the Federal Government and the Provinces. Since the 1960s, Quebec has used this as a device to bolster the Francophone aspects of its culture and has set up its own offices abroad for selecting candidates for entry to the province. Other provinces do not act so independently as Quebec. Manitoba and British Columbia have developed along the Quebec route perhaps a little bit further than other provinces.


In 2011 the proportion of the Canadian population that were immigrants was 20.6%. This is projected to rise to between 24.5% and 30.0% by 2036. Between 2011 and 2016, the population of Canada grew by 1.7 million. 66% of that increase was accounted for by newcomers.

The Economics

There is always an underlying debate about the economic impact of immigration on Canada. Immigration peaked in the middle of the twentieth century but is still substantial compared to other economies.

Public Attitude to Allowing People into the Country

Immigrants are divided into four categories: Family Class, Economic, Refugees, and Humanitarian.

Family Class

These are people who are closely related to Canadian residents. (in 2016 26% of the total)

Economic Migrants

These are skilled workers and Business people. (in 2016 53% of the total)


People who are fleeing from persecution, torture, and cruel punishments. (in 2016 20% of the total)

Humanitarian and Other

These are people who are allowed through humanitarian and compassionate reasons. (in 2016 1% of total arrivals)

There appears to be a profound change taking place in Canadians attitudes in the last few years. In 2013 and 2014, most of the general public and all of the Canadian political parties supported either present levels or increasing numbers of arrivals. At that time, the country and Australia were found to be the most receptive countries in the western world. However, in 2017 a poll by Angus Reid showed that most Canadians now favored accepting fewer immigrants.

In 2019 a further poll by Leger Marketing” found that 63% of respondents wanted limits set on immigration, while 37% felt that immigration should be expanded.

It is worthy of note that in a separate poll in 2019, 40% of Canadians felt that there were too many non-white foreigners residents there.

A cursory look at these recent polls suggests that while incomers had primarily been British or other white-faced types, the public had perhaps not been so aware of how many immigrants the country had. Still, with recent policy changes that encourage more non-white residents who were more visible, it has swayed public opinion.

Statistics Supporting the Benefits of Immigration

First of all, we will look at the future as things are now. In 2035, 25% of Canadians will be over 65 years of age. 5,000,000 Canadians are waiting to retire by 2035.

Today four working Canadians are supporting each retired Canadian. By 2035 this will have changed so that there are only two working Canadians supporting each retiree.

The country has a low fertility rate and is ranked 181 globally. This results in each woman producing just 1.6 children. For the population to replace itself, it would require 2.1 children. The population is shrinking if we discount transmigration. By 2035 100% of growth in population will be by immigration.

Just to meet the needs of the Canadian workforce, it will require 350,000 more people from abroad annually.

A Case Study on Canadian Incomers

To track the progress of incomers in the country, a study called “Stranger at the Gate” tracked the arrival of the Vietnamese Boat People who caused such controversy when they arrived in 1979.

The total number of boat people was 60,000, very few of whom spoke English or French and not possessing skills that had any use in their new home. Most were farmers with no relevant experience in western agriculture. They also came with no resources. No money to establish themselves in their new country. This was not a very promising picture and did not bode well for their future.

Within ten years, this group of no-skilled, poverty-stricken people with no language skills had achieved an employment rate that was 2.3% better than the national average. 20% of them had started their own business, and 99% of them had successfully become Canadian citizens, and they were far less likely to require any social assistance.


The discussion about the merits and problems relating to continued immigration into Canada is a debate that will be sure to continue in the coming years. Over the southern border in the USA attitudes to immigration tend to be polarized with citizens holding strong views either way (pro or anti-immigration), In Canada when asked about immigration very few people showed extreme views either way.

Canada´s model isn’t perfect. But compared to the new nationalist and populist tendencies of other countries, Canada shows how desirable openness alternative really is. The key takeaway here is to try to make things better instead of isolating your country from the rest of the world.

Recent Posts