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The Benefits of a Broader Distribution of Immigrants in Canada

Austin Campbell



Broader Distribution of Immigrants

Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal have historically been the three main cities in Canada where immigrants have settled in recent years. In 2021, 29.5% of recent Canadian immigrants arrived in Toronto, 12.2% chose Montreal as their new home, and just under 11% chose Vancouver as their first Canadian metropolis. For the past 50 years, this trend has repeatedly shown itself. According to census data going back to 1999, more than 68% of immigrants in each of the three selected years chose to settle in those three locations. Yet, the Canadian census of 2021 indicates that this fact is now beginning to change.

Where is Canada at The Moment in Recent Census?

The most recent census conducted by Statistics Canada shows that the proportion of recent immigrants who have established in Canada’s three largest cities is declining. According to the most recent census data, the proportion of landed immigrants residing in one of the three cities decreased by 2.6%. It came down from 56.0% to 53.4% between 2016 and 2021.

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The Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in Montreal, where the share of immigration fell from 14.8% in 2016 to 12.2% in 2021, saw the biggest decline in overall immigrant settlement. In the meantime, more and more recent immigrants chose to settle farther from Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Additionally, over the same period, the Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA saw an almost two-fold increase in the number of immigrants (1.2% to 2.1%), and in 2021, more than 3% of recent immigrants settled in both small urban (4.4%) and rural (3.2%) areas.

Over the five-year reporting period included in the latest Canadian census, Ontario’s share of recent immigrants went up from 39% (2016) to 44% (2021). Over the same timeframe, immigration to British Columbia was up from 14.5% to 14.9%, while immigrant settlement also improved in Nova Scotia from 1% to 1.6%, New Brunswick (0.8% to 1.2%) and Prince Edward Island (0.3% to 0.4%).


Canada’s New Immigrant Distribution: What Does It Mean?

Widespread immigration in Canada benefits the entire country by fostering economic growth in the nation’s smaller areas, which is why Canada created its Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) in 1998. Using one of the 11 PNPs or another immigration method, more immigrants will move to varied regions of Canada, where they will contribute to rising labour market needs. In the most recent Canadian census, which covered a five-year reporting period, Ontario saw an increase in the percentage of recent immigrants, from 39% (2016) to 44%. (2021).

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