Immigrants will comprise growing share of Canada’s population by 2036: Statscan

January 26, 2017

By Tavia Grant, Globe and Mail |

New population projections for Canada paint a picture of growing diversity, in all parts of the country.

Nearly half of the population will likely be immigrants or children of immigrants by 2036 if current immigration levels continue, a Statistics Canada study estimates, up from 38.2 per cent in 2011.

The projections come as immigration has become a hot-button issue, particularly south of the border, where U.S. President Donald Trump plans to curb immigration and this week signed a directive to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Canada has maintained or increased its immigration levels – even through the last recession. In the year to last July, this country received the highest number of newcomers since comparable record-keeping began. In the coming year, the federal government has said it plans to hold immigration levels steady.

Newcomers have accounted for a growing share of Canada’s population since the 1990s, amid steady immigration levels, increasing numbers of deaths and low fertility rates. In the coming years, analysts predict that the only growth in the country’s labour force will be from immigration.

Statscan crunched the numbers using scenarios for immigration levels that ranged from low to high. All scenarios showed that the share of immigrants is set to grow – in all provinces and territories – in the coming decades.

The share of immigrants in the population in 2036 “could be almost twice as high as in 1871,” the agency said.

Yasmeen Abu-Laban, a political-science professor at the University of Alberta who studies migration and multiculturalism, said that the Statscan projections were in line with Canadian demographic trends dating back to the late 1960s.

“This is just Canada being more Canada,” she said. “With the Brexit discussion in Britain, there was a real backlash against immigration. And we haven’t seen anything like that in Canada.”

Still, Dr. Abu-Laban warned against becoming complacent, noting that the wave of xenophobia that was washed over the United States and much of Europe came suddenly.

“I worry about those trends because I think no one is immune to them,” she said.

A growing share of immigrants means Canada will be more diverse, with more visible minorities, more non-Christian religions and more people who speak languages other than English and French as a mother tongue, Statscan demographer Jean-Dominique Morency said in an interview.

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