Canada Sees Fastest Population Growth Since 1957 on Influx of Immigrants

Canada’s population grew by the highest rate in a single year since 1957 as the number of temporary workers, foreign students and immigrants surged.

(Bloomberg) — Canada’s population grew by the highest rate in a single year since 1957 as the number of temporary workers, foreign students and immigrants surged. 

The country’s population rose 2.9% in the 12-month period ending July 1, one of the world’s fastest growth rates, bringing the number of residents to 40.1 million. The jump was driven by the largest recorded increase in temporary residents in data going back to 1971. 

The new demographic figures, released Wednesday by Canada’s statistics agency, capture the outcome of a policy shift by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, which is welcoming record-breaking numbers of newcomers to fill gaps in the labor force and expand universities and colleges. The number of non-permanent residents in Canada — a category that includes people on work or study permits as well as refugees — is now 2.2 million, or more than 5% of the total.

“If the rate of population growth seen this past year remained constant in the future, it would lead to the Canadian population doubling in 25 years,” Statistics Canada said.

The government’s immigration strategy aims to stave off economic decline amid falling birth rates and a wave of retiring older workers. Fertility reached a record low last year with 1.33 children per woman, compared with 1.44 in 2021. 

Trudeau has faced calls, however, to reduce permanent-resident targets or cap the number of international students because of the pressure on the housing supply, which is leading to higher rents and home prices.

The data show the country added about 700,000 non-permanent residents in 12 months, bringing the number to 2.2 million as of July 1 — a 46% jump from a year earlier. They now outnumber the 1.8 million Indigenous people counted during the 2021 census. 

The growth in the non-permanent population is “extraordinary” and was not planned by the government, Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said by email. The increase can’t be sustained by the available supply of affordable housing, he said. 

Read More: Trudeau Faces Political Backlash Over Soaring Housing Prices

The last time Canada’s population grew faster was in 1957, nearly the height of the postwar baby boom and a period when the country was accepting Hungarian refugees who were fleeing Soviet repression. 

The new data on non-permanent residents included a revised methodology that addresses some of the criticisms of economists who’ve warned that Statistics Canada is undercounting this portion of the population.

The agency made changes to better estimate the number of temporary residents living in Canada with an expired visa or those who are in the process of renewing one. “The effect of these new adjustments on the total size of the Canadian population is minimal,” the agency said.

(Updates with comment from CIBC economist in eighth paragraph.)

More stories like this are available on

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.