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Immigrants and international students grew Canada’s population in Q1 2021

July 16, 2021

In the first quarter of 2021, Canada’s population grew at the fastest rate since the pandemic began.

The population rebounded thanks to the recovery of pre-pandemic immigration levels, and the return of international students, according to a recent RBC report.

Immigration raised Canada’s population by 82,000 in the first quarter. The federal government’s push to encourage temporary residents in Canada to apply for permanent residence resulted in high numbers of new immigrants who were already living in the country.

International students and Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders were the primary drivers of Canada’s population growth. New study permits increased 44 per cent year-over year, a complete turn around from 2020 when the international student population fell by 60,000. In the first quarter 2021, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued about 21,000 permits. PGWPs increased 160 per cent to about 24,000.

Even with a strong start to the year, the pandemic still amounts to a lost year in terms of Canadian population growth. Year over year, the population grew just 0.4 per cent, when a rate of 2.1 per cent is required to sustain growth. The natural increase, that is the number of births minus the number of deaths, was the lowest level in recorded history at 6,400. This was partially a result of deaths due to coronavirus.

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