Temporary residents now make up nearly 7% of Canada's total population

The population increased by nearly a quarter million during the first quarter of 2024, bringing Canada's total population to over 41 million.

Temporary residents now make up nearly 7% of Canada's total population
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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Canada's population of temporary residents ballooned to 2.8 million in the first quarter of 2024 under the Liberals' immigration plan.

The number of temporary residents now makes up nearly 7% of Canada's total population, up from 3.5% from two years ago, Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday.

The population increased by nearly a quarter million during the first four months of the year, bringing Canada's total population to over 41 million.

Canada's population growth is thanks almost entirely to immigration, with the number of temporary residents more than doubling in the past two years. This has caused strains on Canada's health-care system, housing markets and infrastructure.

Ottawa has indicated in recent weeks that they have some plans to restrict migration to Canada, though the announcement of allowing caretakers permanent residency and giving Canadians born abroad citizenship signals otherwise.

In March, the Trudeau Liberals announced they would cut temporary residents to 5% of the total population over the next three years.

The number of temporary residents is "far beyond what Canada has been able to absorb," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has admitted. "We want those numbers to go down."

Immigration Minister Marc Miller has also admitted the number has gotten out of hand.

"It's something we are going to look at in the first quarter, first half of this year," Miller said in an interview on CTV's Question Period in January. "That volume is really disconcerting. It's really a system that has gotten out of control."

There are some indicators that growth may be peaking.

Canada experienced a net gain of nearly 132,000 temporary residents in the first quarter of 2024, surpassing the increase seen during the same period last year. However, this figure is significantly lower than the approximate 313,000 increase in the third quarter of 2023. Temporary migration usually shows strong seasonality, with higher arrivals in the fall due to the start of many school programs.

This year is likely to be different. The federal government is significantly reducing the number of study visas approved and will implement a cap for 2025 as well. Additionally, Ottawa is restricting work visas for spouses of international students, among other changes targeting higher education.

Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that Alberta experienced a net interprovincial gain in residents for the 11th consecutive quarter, meaning more people moved to Alberta from other provinces than left. Ontario and British Columbia contributed the most to Alberta's population inflow.

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