Immigrant Settlement Distribution

Immigrant Settlement Distribution May Benefit Canada

Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal are three primary locations where immigrants have historically settled.

A survey published by Statistics Canada in 2021 shows that 29.5% of recent Canadian immigrants – those who came to Canada between 2016 and 2021 – settled in Toronto, 12.2% settled in Montreal, and a bit more than that (11.7%) decided to settle in Vancouver as their first Canadian home.

As a matter of fact, this has been a trend that has been occurring consistently for the past 50 years. A study of census numbers dating back to 1999 indicates that in three different choices — in 1999, 2001, and 2006 — over the last quarter century, over 68% of immigrants settled in each of these three cities during that year.

There is, however, a change taking place in this reality, according to the Canadian census conducted in 2021.

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Canada: What’s Happening?

As a result of Statistics Canada’s latest census, “the number of recent immigrants living in Canada’s three largest cities is declining.” Over the five-year reporting period (2016 to 2021), the number of landed immigrants settling in one of the three cities dropped 2.6% — from 56.0% to 53.4%.

Among the Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs), Montreal experienced the largest decline in the total immigrant settlement, where immigration dipped from 14.8% in 2016 to 12.2% in 2021.

As a result, more recent immigrants are choosing to live outside Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. In fact, the Ottawa-Gatineau region saw a 1.3% growth in immigrant settlement (3.1% in 2016 to 4.4% in 2021).

There is also evidence that the CMA known as Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo almost doubled the percentage of immigrants (1.2% to 2.1%) over the same time frame, while over three percent of recent immigrants landed in both “small urban” (4.4%) and “rural” (3.2%) areas during 2021 as well.

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Across Canada, recent immigrants are also spreading. Five provinces saw their share of recent immigrants rise compared to previous censuses in 2021. According to the latest Canadian census, Ontario’s recent immigrant share increased from 39% in 2016 to 44% in 2021.

In the same timeframe, immigration to British Columbia rose from 14.5% to 14.9%, while settlement improved in Nova Scotia (1% to 1.6%), New Brunswick (0.8% to 1.2%), and Prince Edward Island (0.3% to 0.4%).

Can Canada Benefit From This New Immigrant Distribution?

Through economic development in smaller regions, widespread immigration throughout Canada benefits the entire country for the same reasons that Canada introduced its Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

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Through one of 11 PNPs or another immigration pathway, more immigrants will settle in diverse parts of Canada, addressing local labour market needs. The result will be economic growth in those regions, since new immigrants will work, earn money, and then spend money that goes back into the economy. Between 2016 and 2021, immigration contributed to 79.9% of Canada’s labour force growth.

In addition, newcomers will continue to pay taxes while spending money on housing, transportation, and other necessities, which will further allow the economy to grow in the places across the country that are seeing an increase in immigration over the past few years.

The economic and development prosperity gained by these new immigrant settlement destinations in Canada will ultimately benefit the country at large.

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