While Canadians celebrate a new population milestone, one bank executive does not share that enthusiasm.
On Friday, the country's population surpassed 40 million people faster than expected, according to Statistics Canada.
But, according to CIBC CEO Victor Dodig, Canada could be on the precipice of an unprecedented "social crisis."
In 2022, Canada welcomed 1.1 million permanent and temporary residents — more than double the 430,000-person quota set by Ottawa that year. Of these, 95.9% came from international migration.
The federal government has its eyes set on increasing annual immigration quotas to 500,000 people a year by 2025 or an additional 1.45 million people over three years.
A Leger poll revealed that nearly half (49%) of Canadians believe the immigration plan is too ambitious. It found that excessive strain on Canada's housing availability and healthcare system is top of mind for residents.
Canada's population surpassed 30 million in 1997 and could hit 50 million in two decades. By 2041, two in five Canadians would be foreigners.
In February, Dodig said the country could face 'disastrous consequences' if Ottawa fails to build more housing to accommodate new immigrants.
"New Canadians want to establish a life here and need a roof over their heads. We need to get that policy right and not wave the flag saying, isn't it great that everyone wants to come to Canada," he said.
Last June, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) said Canada needs 3.5 million more housing units by 2031 to improve affordability — doubling the number of new builds to 400,000 annually.
In 2017, Ottawa launched its affordable housing strategy to run a 10-year, $40 billion plan. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), that budget has since doubled to $89 billion in 2022.
Growing costs for materials, loans and land have pushed up the price tag for new residential development. The shortage of construction workers exacerbated building costs for affordable housing units.
The PBO report said the national housing strategy needs a standard definition of affordability, raising questions on whether constructing units presented as affordable are indeed affordable.
The CMHC rental market report further muddied the affordability question because of "significantly higher net migration," which partly drove demand for rental properties.
"Growth in demand outpaced strong supply growth, pushing the vacancy rate for purpose-built rental apartments down from 3.1% to 1.9%. This was the vacancy rate's lowest level since 2001," wrote economists for the Crown corporation.
Ontario, B.C., and Québec observed the highest inflow of immigrants, increasing demand in local real estate markets. The former two also have the costliest housing and rental prices nationwide.
The typical cost to rent a two-bedroom unit in Metro Vancouver is $2,002, while the Toronto region costs $1,779 to rent similar units.
Dodig also cited concerns about provincial healthcare capacity, including an "unbelievably long line of people waiting for doctors, for procedures" that would worsen under "accelerated" immigration projections.
Roughly one-in-10 Canadians are still waiting for surgery, a diagnostic scan, or an appointment with a specialist.
According to Secondstreet.org, residents typically wait 27.4 weeks for medical treatment, including critical surgeries, treatments, and procedures. At least 13,581 patients died waiting for treatment last year, compared to 11,581 the previous year.
"The whole ecosystem has to work," said Dodig. "If they can't get a house, if they can't get a doctor, if they are struggling to get a job, that's not so good."