How Many Immigrants Come to Canada Each Year?

Perhaps it is the weather. Maybe it is the food. It may even be due to the people. To some, it is the abundance of opportunities. And to others, the country’s cultural diversity lures them in. Whatever the reason, the Great White North has been the preferred destination for many immigrants.

Canada has had a long history of welcoming immigrants. It opened its arms in the late 1800s. And, it has continued to do so until this very day.

One thing is true- Canada is open to new residents and citizens. Canada’s “open-country” image shows in its immigration policy. Most importantly, the number of immigrants alone could give you an idea of this. But, you have to wonder. How many people come to Canada each year to settle?

This article will focus on the immigration figures and statistics of Canada.

First, a bit of history.

A Brief Historical Background of Canadian Immigration

The history of Canadian immigration stretches back to the 18th century. During that time, there were major events in the North American continent. First, many parts of Canada were under the British. Also during that time was the American Revolution. Slavery was common. And, so was the exploitation of African Americans. This century was a time of racial inequality.

Under British occupation, Nova Scotia became known to slaves and African Americans. They heard that it was a land for refugees. With this reputation, many slaves and African Americans fleeing oppression flocked to this part of Canada. Hence, between 1775 and 1783, Nova Scotia became home to refugees. This marked an important part of the history of Canadian immigration.

The influx of thousands of African Americans to Nova Scotia would continue until1865. By this time, more than 40,000 African Americans had already called Nova Scotia and Quebec home. But, African Americans were not the only races present.

In 1877, Canada welcomed the first wave of Japanese immigrants to Victoria, British Columbia. This would continue until 1914. In that year, there were already 10,000 Japanese immigrants. These immigrants became the first generation of Japanese permanent residents. Immigrants were beginning to be more diverse.

Chinese immigrants joined in 1885. Not too long later, immigrants from many parts of Europe would soon follow. Then, in 1897, the first batch of 4,000 Sikh immigrants would come to British Columbia. These immigrants would continue to arrive until 1907. This was about the same time 2,000 Doukhobor immigrants would join the immigrant population.

In case you are wondering, Doukhobors are a religious group from Russia. Due to Russia’s laws against religion, they had to leave.    

However, the exodus would not last long. In 1907, immigration from South Asia became heavily regulated. The immigration restrictions would remain until the beginning of the Second World War. However, due to labour demand, Canada welcomed European migrants. So, from 1945 until 1975, almost 900,000 immigrants from different parts of the world entered Canada.

For the next 4 decades, Canada’s immigration levels steadily rose. To this very day, it remains to be one of the highest in the world.

A Summary of “Push” and “Pull” Factors

The previous section shows us a mix of different migrant ethnicities. But, what causes them to make the risky move to Canada? The movement of people and communities is due to “push” and “pull” factors. “Push” factors cause people to leave their home countries. “Pull” factors attract them to a certain country. The history of Canadian immigration shows these two factors.

Oppression is brought about by racial inequality. And, inequality leads to the absence of opportunities for the oppressed. With the arrival of African American slaves, oppression becomes an obvious reason for leaving the United States.

The Sikh migration was also because of the same reason. The absence of religious freedom also forces certain ethnicities to leave their countries. This was the case for Chinese immigrants. This was also true for the Doukhobors from Russia.

Canada throughout history had its share of “pull” factors. Certain conditions in Canada were attractive to migrants. Canada needed laborers for the war effort. One such condition is job opportunities. This was what attracted migrants during the years of World War 2.

There was another reason for the arrival of migrants. The population of Canada was beginning to become more diverse. More and more nationalities were making the country their home. As more people heard of this, they flocked to the country.

Cultural diversity attracted many immigrants. Diversity removes the social barriers brought by racial inequality. In a racially diverse society, the “minority” no longer becomes minor. But an equally protected part of the population.

And, being a protected part of the population, immigrants received political freedom and a better way of life. These continue to be some of the reasons for immigration to Canada.  

How Many Immigrants Are In Canada Right Now?

Immigration levels in Canada tend to fluctuate. Also, immigrants arrive and leave every day. But, immigration levels depend on the Canadian government’s policies. With that in mind, the number of immigrants would be from 250,000 to 350,000.

The most recent documented census was in 2019. Based on the survey, Canada welcomed at least 268,943 immigrants. Ontario seemed to be the most popular destination of immigrants. This is true inasmuch as more than half of the immigrants in Canada went here.

With roughly 44,000 immigrants each, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta were the next preferred provinces for new migrants. During this same year, there were 15,918 immigrants in the province of Manitoba. And, this figure outnumbered that of Saskatchewan’s by about 2,000 migrants.

The numbers of immigrants in the provinces off the Atlantic coast are between 1,000 to 6500. They make up a smaller percentage of the total immigrants. For instance, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick welcomed 6,393 and 5,076 migrants respectively. As for Prince Edward Island, 2,267 immigrants were registered. Meanwhile, 1,651 immigrants were in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Lastly, the remaining three provinces in the North had the lowest figure of immigrants in Canada. Yukon’s immigrant population was only 310 in 2019. It was only slightly higher than the number of immigrants in the Northwest Territories. The figure stood at 227 immigrants. Lastly, the survey recorded only 25 immigrants in Nunavut. The immigration level in this province was the lowest for the year.   

How Many Immigrants Did Canada Take In 2018?

In 2018, former minister of immigration, Ahmed Hussen, reported on immigration levels. In the report, there were more than 286,000 newcomers to Canada. Different categories of immigrants make up that number. But, of the total, more than half were economic immigrants. These immigrants came to Canada for work. Also, about 44,000 of the new additions to the population were refugees and asylum-seekers.

The 286,000 immigrants were enough to greatly increase Canada’s population. According to the 2018 report, immigration levels contributed to 80% of Canada’s population increase. For this reason, the Canadian government sees the importance of immigration. It makes up for the low birth rates and the aging population of the country. 

The statistics also show successful migrant integration. Based on the data, 93% of all migrants reported a sense of belonging in Canada. So, in Canada, communities make integration easier for newcomers. Average earnings may have helped them too. In 2018, the average immigrant made 6% more money than most Canadian-born citizens. They were also 15 to 24% more likely to be employed.

A large portion of the total number of immigrants had university degrees. As a result, over 90% of them were familiar with either English or French. Language barriers almost did not exist.

Included in the total number of immigrants were temporary residents. International students made an important contribution. In fact, they contributed 31 billion dollars to the economy alongside tourists. Temporary workers helped address short-term labour needs.

Lastly, more provinces in the country became migrant destinations in 2018. Since the late 90s, economic migrants and international students have preferred British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. A 1997 survey showed this. Based on the survey, 90% of newcomers lived in these provinces. Only 10% lived in other provinces. This changed a decade later.

In 2018, the rate of migrants in other provinces outside Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario rose to 34%. Thus, there was a lower concentration of immigrants in the 3 provinces. Little by little, other parts of Canada are becoming appealing to migrants.

It seems that the data points to two things. It shows immigration as a priority for the Canadian government. And, it also proves the humanitarian tradition of the country.    

Where Do Canada’s Immigrants Come From?

In 2011, around 6,775,800 were non Canadian-born residents and citizens. They represented 20.6% of Canada’s total population. During this year, around 260,000 immigrants added to that existing number. The number of newcomers was stable for the next 3 years. But, it dropped in 2015.

A year later, the number of immigrants recovered and peaked at around 340,000. For the next 3 years, Canada would continue to welcome more than 300,000 newcomers every year.

Canadian immigration has been on the rise. Newcomers will add to the number and contributions of the native Canadian population.

And, this is thanks to the nationalities that choose to make the move.

From 1961 until the early 90s, most immigrants came from the European continent. They comprised nearly half of the total immigrant population in Canada. Meanwhile, Asian immigrants only made up a modest percentage.

But, despite size, Asian immigrants had kept on going to Canada since 1881. For this reason, Asian immigration levels would continue to increase until 2011. In the later years, Asians would comprise more than half the number of immigrants. As we speak, Asia is currently Canada’s main source of immigrants.

In fact, in 2019, Canada welcomed a total of 341,000 immigrants. Of this number, 310,539 came from the Asian continent. That’s 91% of the total number of newcomers to Canada! The remaining 9% was shared by Eritrea, Nigeria, and the United States.

In short, most of Canada’s immigrants used to come from Europe. But, as of 2011, most of them continue to be from many parts of Asia.

As we all know, the Asian population is as diverse as any population could be. To see where most of Canada’s immigrants come from, we will have to be a little more specific. In 2019, a survey found 6 Asian countries. Six Asian countries sent the most number of immigrants to Canada. These countries are India, China, the Philippines, Pakistan, South Korea, and Iran. And, of these countries, India was the leading country.


Twenty-five percent of the Asian immigrants came from here. And, experts have seen 3 reasons for this.

Data reveals India’s large population. Since 2014, it has had the second-largest population in the world. This has a direct effect on its number of emigrants. How? It’s simple. A large population means a large number of potentially eligible candidates for immigration to Canada.

Furthermore, there is also India’s average English proficiency levels and academic attainment. Based on current data, the average immigrant from India has a bachelor’s degree. Also, the average Indian immigrant could speak English. These factors almost ensure eligibility when applying for a visa.

Speaking of visa applications, doing so requires some money. With that said, many people from India could afford to immigrate. This is because of the middle class. India has a steadily growing middle-class population. This means that more and more people are beginning to have money to spend. So, immigration is now more available and accessible to India.

In short, India makes up most of the immigrant population in Canada due to the 3 factors above. This is why countries like China and the Philippines occupy second and third places.


Only 9% of Canada’s newcomers in 2019 came from China. These numbers have remained “stagnant” for the past decade. This has been linked to two factors: China’s rising standards of living and Canada’s English standards. As the standard of living rises in China, the interest to settle in another country decreases. Some still go to Canada to settle. Yet, most of the Chinese just prefer living in their homeland.

English also poses a problem for some. Some data suggests that only 10% of the Chinese population speak English. So, many of those who want to immigrate may find the IELTS or CELPIP too difficult.

The Philippines

The Philippines has always supplied the rest of the world with workers and students. But, Canadian immigration has become less accessible to Philippine migrants. Many Filipinos do have an interest in moving to Canada. And, for many, hardly is English communication a problem. So, what’s stopping them?

Compared to India, the Philippines has a middle class which is decreasing. This makes the costs of immigration discouraging to many. But, there is one more reason for the decline. Through the years, a vast majority of the Filipinos welcomed by Canada were admitted as nurses and caregivers.

The Caregiver Program was Canada’s way of addressing labor shortages in nursing and caregiving. But, as of 2014, Canada had reduced its admission of caregivers. As a result, the number of Filipino immigrants admitted as care providers decreased.          

Nigeria and The United States

Asians were not the only sources of Canadian immigration. Nigerians and Americans also maintained their presence in the Great White North.

Citizens from both countries are typically English speakers. So, like Filipinos, they experience little to no problems with communicating with Canadians.

In the case of the United States, its proximity to the southern part of Canada encourages Americans to make the move up North. With many cultural traits in common, Americans have no problems integrating into Canadian society.

Immigration from Nigeria has increased recently. Canada opened its borders to about 11,000 Nigerian immigrants in 2018. A year later, the country welcomed more Nigerians and gave many of them permanent resident statuses. In addition, travel bans from other countries have made Canada a realistic choice for people in Nigeria.


The Syrian refugee crisis has lasted for over a decade. And, in cooperation with other nations, Canada continues to take in more refugees from Syria. In 2019, 10,120 Syrians were admitted into Canada as refugees and asylum-seekers. Right now, the Canadian government is seeking more ways to allow more displaced Syrians into Canada.

Where Are The Most Preferred Destinations of Immigrants?

As mentioned earlier, most immigrants tend to go to 4 provinces in Canada. Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta. The cities in these provinces host most of the immigrants. So, how many immigrants are in these cities? Read on to find out.


As of 2016, nearly 30% of Ontario’s newcomers chose Toronto as their home. This makes Toronto one of the most desired places for immigrants. From 2001 to 2005, the city of Toronto welcomed 379,400 new immigrants.

Thereafter, 348,625 newcomers would arrive in the city. And, 356,930 immigrants would arrive yearly from 2011 to 2016. Thus, over a 15-year period, Toronto has become home to at least 1 million immigrants and temporary residents.


Vancouver, British Columbia also seems to be appealing to many immigrants. How appealing? Here are the statistics.

British Columbia has 52 cities. As of 2016, immigrants went to only half of these cities. In that year, there were 1,292,675 immigrants. Vancouver had 989,540 of these newcomers. That’s more than 76% of the entire province’s immigration level.

And, the number keeps increasing each year!


The city of Montreal has always been an immigrant destination for many years. Statistics Canada records Montreal’s population to be 22,761,809. This includes both migrants and citizens. This was the number of people in Montreal back in 2016.

But, in 2019, the population of the city grew to 37,314,442. According to Statistics Canada, 61% of the growth was due to the influx of immigrants into Montreal. For this reason, immigration was a major driving force for population increase. This is desirable to Montreal residents. For, most of them say that it helps with the city’s aging population and manpower shortages.


Immigration levels in Edmonton, Alberta have been gradually increasing since 2001. It has lagged behind Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. But, over the years, the city has seen more migrant workers in the farming and oil and gas industry. According to experts, this is crucial.

Like most places in Canada, the average age of workers is rising. Immigration has done much to provide the city with a younger workforce. To sustain its needs, the city plans to attract 300,000 more immigrants by 2027.

Predictions and Plans on Immigration

Immigration continues to be on the rise in the Great White North. The future of Canadian immigration seems to follow past trends. True to its reputation and history, Canada will welcome immigrants for three reasons. One reason is work. And, family reunification and asylum are the other two reasons. The current administration’s plans and projections show this to be true.

Since 2015, the CSBA and IRCC have been welcoming at least 250,000 immigrants into Canada. Nonetheless, the Canadian government set 300,000 immigrants annually as the target until 2021. The government expects most of the immigrants to be economic immigrants.

Economic immigrants are migrants who come to Canada for work. The target number in 2019 was 191,600 new immigrants in Canada through the Express Entry Program. Meeting this, the government plans to process 195,800 more immigrants into Canada. The number is seen to rise in 2021.

Immigration into Canada due to family reunification is also expected to rise. In fact, there will be an expected 91,000 new immigrants by 2021. These immigrants will be the spouses, parents, grandparents, or children of new permanent residents.

Due to Canada’s reputation with refugees, the number of refugees and asylum-seekers is also predicted to go up in 2021. Since 2019, refugees and asylum seekers have increased to about 46,000. By 2021, there will be 51,000 refugee immigrants into Canada.


The number of immigrants in Canada shows us a few things about the country. It gives many of us a clue about its values. With its history, Canada has valued integration, acceptance, and tolerance. It has a history of granting protection to all who enter its borders. The country has done well to maintain this reputation. It is one that is true to this very day.

The numbers in this article should also be taken as encouragement. For centuries, many struggling immigrants have flourished in Canada. This was possible hundreds of years ago. And, it is still possible today.

Even for you!

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

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