Why Canada Needs Immigrants

If you are thinking about immigrating to Canada you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about what you need. Of course you first have to decide whether you’re coming to work, study, or just to visit – so that you get the correct entry documents. And it’s also important to know if you want to become a permanent resident some day. But you also need to consider other details such as: do you meet the entry requirements, what city do you want to live in, do you have enough money for your stay, and do you have enough warm clothes!  Basically, there is a lot to think about before you come to Canada. But something you may not have thought about is why Canada needs immigrants and if Canadians really want you here. Happily, the answers are yes and yes – let us explain. 

The infographic below explains the value of immigrants to Canada in four different areas. Firstly, through increases in population, secondly by improving the economy, and finally by increasing community and diversity. All four of these are hugely important to Canada’s success and economic growth, and all contribute to why Canadians value immigrants so highly. Let’s dive into the details of how immigration supports Canada’s growth and prosperity and how Canadians feel about immigrants.

Data on the value of immigrants to Canada with respect to population & economic growth, as well and community and diversity.

Population Growth

Canada accepts about 300,000 permanent residents every year, or almost 1% of its total population.1  This makes Canada one of the most immigrant-friendly countries in the world.5  But why does Canada admit so many immigrants?  One of the reasons is pretty simple – Canada’s population would decrease without immigration. A decreasing population can inhibit economic growth, and have adverse effects on diversity and community. Why is the population decreasing? Because Canadians are having fewer babies and the population is getting older.

Low Fertility Rate

Canada needs a fertility rate* of 2.1 just to keep its population the same.5  And in 2020 the total fertility rate was only 1.5 – not nearly enough to grow the population.6 In fact, Canada’s population would be much smaller if immigration stopped and fertility rates stayed low.7

Fortunately, every immigrant that comes to live in Canada makes our population grow. And, an added benefit is that immigrants also help raise the fertility rate. This is because most immigrants to Canada are less than 45 years old and choose have children born in Canada.8 In fact, immigrants are parents to 37% of the children born in Canada even though they make up just 21% of the population. This helps keep Canada’s fertility rate from dropping even lower.

*Fertility Rate is the average number of babies a woman will have during her reproductive (fertile) years.

Aging Population

The fact that Canada’s population is getting older also has an effect on how many immigrants the country needs. Canada had a big population spike called the ‘baby boom’ over the twenty-year period after World War 2. In fact, Canada’s fertility rate shot up to 3.9 in the early 1960s, and those ‘baby boomers’ are mostly senior citizens now.10  As a result, many Canadians have retired and left the workforce, making it more challenging for businesses to find workers. As the infographic shows, in 2020 there were about 3.5 people working for every 1 retired person. By 2040, that will drop to about 2.5 workers per retired person. If Canada takes fewer immigrants, it will be lower still.1  Thus, an older population means fewer workers, less tax revenue and higher healthcare expenses. 

In the end, a younger, growing population can help Canada expand its workforce, while better use of technology can help support its aging population. Increasing the population is helpful, but maybe not as important as the economic benefits immigrants bring to Canada.1

Newcomers to Canada have been a major source of ongoing growth and prosperity.

2020 Annual report to parliament on immigration

Economic Benefits

Immigrants help Canada’s economy grow – that is a fact. And, most immigrants come to Canada seeking opportunities for a better life. That means immigrants are highly motivated to succeed – whether starting and growing a business, getting a university degree, saving to buy a house, or volunteering in communities – immigration ultimately benefits all Canadians. It has been estimated that by 2040 immigrants will contribute almost half the growth of Canada’s GDP (gross domestic product).1  

Two major factors make immigration essential to Canada’s economic growth:

  1. Immigration leads to increased job creation, job fulfillment and economic activity 
    • Immigrant-owned businesses create more jobs and hire at a faster rate than those run by Canadian-born.2,11  
    • Immigrants and temporary foreign workers help fill gaps in Canada’s labour force. Temporary foreign workers ease short-term labour shortages, particularly in farming, healthcare and technology.12 
    • Most of the immigrants admitted to Canada are chosen for the skills and knowledge they offer Canadian industries.1
    • International students add over $21 billion to the Canadian economy every year due to tuition and spending.13  
    • Because they are younger, immigrants tend to spend more on goods and services.14
  2. Immigration leads to increased imports and exports and expands our list of trading partners
    • Immigrants often arrive in large groups over a short period of time because of political or environmental insecurity in their country of origin.  History shows us that with each of these ‘waves’ of immigrants, there is a corresponding increase in imports and exports from their country of origin.15  Because Canada exports over $40 billion of goods per year, a 1% increase in exports from immigrant businesses brings in $400 million extra dollars to the Canadian economy every year. 
    • The connections immigrants maintain with their birth country help them find more efficient and low-cost ways of importing and exporting products. This makes it possible for many smaller businesses to import and export and generate profitable trade.16
    • Leaders of immigrant-owned businesses tend to be better educated and more likely to adopt technology than Canadian business owners.17  

And fortunately, Canadians understand and value the economic benefit that immigrants bring. A 2020 survey asked:

Overall, immigration has a positive impact on the economy of Canada
TRUE or FALSE?       More than 8 out of 10 Canadians answered TRUE.18

It’s clear that immigrants provide economic benefits, but what value does their culture bring to Canada and Canadians? In fact, the cultural aspects of immigration drive Diversity and Community, both of which benefit Canada greatly.


Diversity thrives when a country welcomes immigrants with varied experiences from different countries and cultures. But what is the benefit of diversity?

Diverse businesses tend to have better access to global markets and strong community relationships. Businesses who hire employees from diverse backgrounds achieve better financial results. Canadian data shows that a 1% increase in diversity increases both revenue and productivity (revenue by 2.4% and productivity by 0.5%).20,21  Not only do diverse companies deliver better financial results, they tend to hire more employees, compete in larger markets, are more appreciative of entrepreneurship, and consider themselves better prepared to deal with business challenges.22 In other words, having diversity in the workplace makes businesses better.  

Diverse businesses employ people from different cultures, genders, social groups and sexual orientations. And we know that employees from varied backgrounds bring different life experiences and opinions that help businesses find solutions to challenges. Diverse businesses are better able to understand and meet the needs of a broader population. Since four out of ten Canadians are either immigrants or children of immigrants, companies who have employees from many different cultures are more likely to reflect the diversity of Canadian culture.19

“. . . diverse companies deliver better financial results”

DELoitte (2018)


We know that each wave of immigrants to Canada increases diversity and improves communities.11 And we have also learned that introducing new cultures and broadening our view of the world helps Canadians embrace, and take pride in, multiculturalism. 

Immigrants also contribute by volunteering in communities. About 4 out of 10 immigrants volunteer compared to 5 out of 10 Canadian-born. Immigrants donate slightly more volunteer hours than Canadian-born,4 and both are most likely to donate money to health, religious and social service agencies, although immigrants donated more to religious organizations than Canadian-born.4 

Many immigrants stay connected to their country of origin and get involved in Canadian communities as well – often through festivals, restaurants, literature, and the arts. Canada prides itself on being multicultural – and that means allowing immigrants to maintain connections to the customs and traditions of their birth country without lessening their Canadian identity. In fact, support for multiculturalism is increasing, with over half of Canadians saying multiculturalism is the main reason they support immigration.18

Over half of Canadians say that multiculturalism is the main reason they are in favour of immigration.

Support for Immigration

Immigration clearly makes Canada better, but do Canadians agree?  We think so – consider the following:

  • Canada ranked first in the world on the 2020 Migrant Acceptance Index, an index ranking support for immigrants worldwide.23
  • In 2020, Canada had the highest level of support for immigration since surveys began in the 1970’s. (only 27% say Canada accepts too many immigrants).18 
  • And, an impressive 84% of Canadians agree that immigrants benefit the economy.

As an immigrant-friendly and multicultural country, Canada places great importance on welcoming and supporting all cultures and religions. The fact that 4 out of every 10 Canadians are either immigrants or have an immigrant parent means the Canadian tradition of welcoming immigrants and enjoying the benefits of multiculturalism will undoubtedly continue. So if you’re wondering whether we need you and we want you – the answers are an enthusiastic Yes and Yes.  


  1. El-Assal, Kareem and Daniel Fields. Canada 2040: No Immigration Versus More Immigration. Ottawa: The Conference Board of Canada, 2018.
  2. Statistics Canada, Picot, G., & Rollin, A.-M., Immigrant Entrepreneurs as Job Creators: The Case of Canadian Private Incorporated Companies (2019). Ottawa, ON; Minister of Industry. 
  3. Uddin, S. K. (2020). Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace for Small Business. www.canadiansme.ca. https://www.canadiansme.ca/benefits-of-diversity-in-the-workplace-for-small-business/.
  4. Statistics Canada, Hall, M., Lasby, D., Ayer, S., & Gibbons, W. D., Caring Canadians Involved Canadians: Highlights from the 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (2009). Ottawa, ON; Minister of Industry. 
  5. Friedman, G. (2019, October 04). All the reasons why Canada needs immigration – and more of it. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://financialpost.com/news/economy/all-the-reasons-why-canada-needs-immigration-and-more-of-it 
  6. Thevenot, S. (2020, November 2). Canada sees record-low fertility rates same year as record-breaking immigration levels. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://www.cicnews.com/2020/11/canada-sees-record-low-fertility-rates-same-year-as-record-breaking-immigration-levels-1116180.html#gs.7r9crr 
  7. Houle, R., Maheux, H., Vézina, M., & Corbeil, J. (2017, October 25). Children with an immigrant background: Bridging cultures. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/as-sa/98-200-x/2016015/98-200-x2016015-eng.cfm 
  8. Edmonston, B. (2016). Canada’s immigration trends and patterns. Canadian Studies in Population, 43(1-2), 78-116.
  9. Report to Parliament
  10. StatsCan-a https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/84f0210x/2007000/part-partie1-eng.htm
  11. O’Brien, C. Immigrant-owned firms create more jobs than those with Canadian-born owners: StatCan | CTV News
  12. Government of Canada. (2020, December 31). #ImmigrationMatters: Canada’s immigration track record. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/campaigns/immigration-matters/track-record.html 
  13. Carr, J. G., Hajdu, P. A., & Hussen, A. (2020, October 19). Building on Success: International Education Strategy (2019-2024). Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://www.international.gc.ca/education/strategy-2019-2024-strategie.aspx?lang=eng 
  14. eMarketer. (October 2014). Immigrants in Canada: Just How Big Is Their Spending Power? Retrieved October 30, 2021 from https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Immigrants-Canada-Just-How-Big-Their-Spending-Power/1011356
  15. Partridge, J., & Furtan, H. (2008). Immigration Waves Effects on Canada’s Trade Flows (2nd ed., Vol. 34, pp. 193-214, Rep.). Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Pres. doi:https://doi.org/10.3138/cpp.34.2.193 
  16. Fung, L., Grekau The Impact of Immigrant Business Ownership on International Trade (statcan.gc.ca) www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11f0019m/11f0019m2019014-eng.htm
  17. Blanchet
  18. Environics. (2020, October 7). Focus Canada Fall 2020 – Public opinion on immigration … www.environicsinstitute.org. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.environicsinstitute.org/docs/default-source/project-documents/fc-fall-2020—immigration/focus-canada-fall-2020—public-opinion-on-immigration-refugees—final-report.pdf?sfvrsn=bd51588f_2. 
  19. Kokemuller, N. (2016, October 26). The Advantages of Diverse Culture in the Work Force. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-diverse-culture-work-force-18441.html 
  20. University Relations. (2019, February 21). Diversity is good for business. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://uwaterloo.ca/news/global-impact/diversity-good-business 
  21. CanadianSME. (2021, February 21). Benefits Of Diversity In The Workplace For Small Business. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://canadiansme.ca/benefits-of-diversity-in-the-workplace-for-small-business/ 
  22. Deloitte Study Explores the “Diversity Advantage” of Canada’s Workforce. (2018, January 23). Retrieved July 30, 2021, from http://www.argentus.com/deloitte-study-explores-the-diversity-advantage-of-canadas-workforce/ 
  23. Esipova, N., Ray, J., & Tsabutashvili, D. (2020, September 23). Canada No. 1 for Migrants, U.S. in Sixth Place. Retrieved July 30, 2021, from https://news.gallup.com/poll/320669/canada-migrants-sixth-place.aspx

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