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Canada’s Population Growth in First Quarter of 2021 Due to Immigration

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According to a 17 June 2021 Economic Update from RBC, Canada’s population grew by 82,000 in the first three months of 2021. This is the fastest quarterly increase since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. Because of the federal government’s new immigration pathways for international students and essential workers, much of the population gain was due to immigrants already living temporarily in Canada and applying for permanent residency.  As well, the number of new study permits issued increased by 44 per cent following a decrease in the international student population in 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, Canada’s federal immigration department, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) gave out about 24,000 Post Graduation Work Permits (PGWPs).

Andrew Agopsowicz, Senior Economist and author of the RBC report, states that “…the pandemic amounts to a lost year in terms of Canadian population growth.” This also speaks to the likelihood that Canada will miss its previously stated target of 401,000 newcomers to the country in 2021. Canada welcomed 70,500 new permanent residents in 2021’s first quarter, with an additional 21,105 in April. To meet its earlier goal, Canada would need to admit more than 38,675 permanent residents every month between May and December. However, increased intake for programs such as the Express Entry system means that immigration numbers will still be high. Immigration is key to Canada’s population growth and the labour market as millions of baby boomers (those born in the decades after World War 2) are set to retire in the coming years. This means that not only jobs will need to be filled, but that millions of Canadians will need additional medical care and other types of assistance as they age.

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