Immigration to Canada


First, a definition:

A landed immigrant (or permanent resident) is a person who has been granted the right to live permanently in Canada by immigration authorities, but who has not yet become a Canadian citizen. This includes refugees.

The following chart (See Source #1) shows the average number of landed immigrants admitted to Canada from 1926 to 2014.

Average Number of Immigrants Per Year

Since the early 1990s, the number of landed immigrants has remained relatively high, with an average of approximately 235,000 new immigrants per year.

Canada has always had a significant immigrant population. The 1931 Census counted nearly 2.3 million foreign-born people, representing 22.2% of Canada’s population. After 1931, the percentage of foreign-born fell, reaching a low of 14.7% in 1951. Since 1951, the foreign-born population has been steadily increasing, and by 2011, the foreign-born population was 6,775,700, representing 20.6% of the total population.

The following chart (#2) breaks down the immigrant population by place of birth in different census years.

Immigration by Place of Birth

Countries Key

Historically, the majority of immigrants have been from Europe. Canada also admitted immigrants from Asia (primarily China and Japan) and other parts of the world. In the 1960s, major amendments were made to Canada’s immigration legislation, and the number of immigrants from Asia and other regions of the world started to grow.

World events also led to the massive movement of refugees and migrants from different parts of the world to Canada. Examples include the arrival of 60,000 boat people from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the late 1970s; 85,000 immigrants from the Caribbean and Bermuda (for example, Jamaica, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago) in the 1980s; 225,000 immigrants from Hong Kong over the 10 years leading up to its return to China by the United Kingdom in 1997; and 800,000 immigrants from China, India and the Philippines in the 2000s.

As of 2011, Asia (including the Middle East) is now the main continent of origin of the immigrant population, although Africa’s share has increased. As well, for the first time since Confederation, China and India have surpassed the United Kingdom as the country of birth most frequently reported by foreign-born people.

The most striking aspect of the above chart is the dramatic decline in European immigrants, those most likely to assimilate with Canada’s majority and “founding stock”.


Photo by Jyotirmoy Gupta on

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