Immigrants boosted labour pool by 1.1 million in last decade

Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal the most popular destination for working age immigrants: Statistics Canada

The majority of immigrants who have come to Canada in the last decade are in the working ages of 25 to 64, according to Statistics Canada.

Between 1991 and 2001, 1,1 million working age immigrants came to Canada, accounting for 66 per cent of the growth in the labour pool. Overall, the country accepted 1.7 million immigrants during those years.

Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal popular

The vast majority of immigrants are flocking to Canada’s largest cities. Nearly three-quarters, or 73 per cent, of the immigrants who came in the 1990s lived in just three census metropolitan areas: Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Toronto was by far the most popular destination, attracting 792,000 people, or 43 per cent of the immigrants. That’s up from the 1980s when 40 per cent of all the immigrants settled in the city. In 2001, immigrants made up 17 per cent of Toronto’s population, an increase from the 12 per cent reported in the previous decade.

Vancouver took in the second largest share, taking in 324,000 — or 18 per cent — of immigrants. These newcomers represented 17 per cent of Vancouver’s population, an increase from nine per cent a decade ago.

Montreal was home to 215,000, or almost 12 per cent, of the newcomers who arrived in the 1990s. This was a slight decrease from the 14 per cent the city attracted in the 1980s. In 2001, immigrants accounted for about six per cent of the population.

Less populated areas hurting

Only six per cent of the new immigrants in the 1990s settled outside major cities, something that is widening the shortage of skilled labour and trained professionals facing less populated areas.

The federal government is considering a number of incentives to encourage immigrants to settle into these regions, including temporary work permits for qualified immigrants willing to spend three to five years in a smaller community.

Manitoba, B.C. and New Brunswick operate nominee programs, choosing potential immigrants with specific skills who might not otherwise qualify for permanent residency, while Ontario has plans to get foreign doctors and nurses accredited faster to alleviate growing shortages in remote areas.

Mark Dunn, director of communications for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre, told the Canadian Press the federal government is looking to expand existing programs to include more provinces and municipalities as part of a regional strategy to address the labour shortage.

“From offshore oil workers to engineers to high-tech jobs — you name it,” Dunn said. “Wherever there’s a need, and the need can’t be filled by qualified people who are already here.”

Latest stories