Statistics Canada released the first round of census data last week. This release, which focuses on population growth and distribution, is the first in a series that looks at different aspects and demographics of Canadian populations. How do we make sense of all this data, and why is it important to do this? TRIEC’s Monina Febria gives us the lowdown on what we know so far and why it’s relevant to immigrant employment.

Why should you care?

The 2016 Canadian census had one of the highest completion rates in its history. Over 94% of people in each province and territory completed it. This means that the responses provide a comprehensive reflection of Canada’s population across all geographical areas.

Why is a census important?

Statistics Canada conducts a national census every five years. The data collected provides insight into the lives of people across the country. This high-quality demographic data informs the development of public services and budget allocations for the country, including vital services such as health care, education and transportation.

What’s in the first data release?

The section of the census released last week focused on two things: how fast the population is growing, and how many people live in each geographical area. Important statistics to note include:

  • Canada once again has the fastest growing population in the G7
  • Canada’s population has grown 5% in the past five years and is now at around 35 million
  • Approximately 2/3 of this increase was due to immigration
  • Ontario remains the most populated province at 13.4 million but population growth in the province was lower than the national average
    • Toronto remains the largest city with a population of 5.9 million people
    • One in six Canadians live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)
  • It is projected that in the Toronto of 2036, more than one in two people in will be either an immigrant or the child of an immigrant (between 77.0% and 81.4).
  • Canada’s fertility rate is on the decline with 1.6 children per woman. 1971 was the last year that the average number of children matched the 2.1 replacement level needed for the population to renew itself.

What are the implications for our work?

The last statistic around Canada’s fertility rate is particularly telling. The country’s population is aging, with more and more people nearing retirement age and the birth rate alone is not enough to replace people leaving the workforce. Immigration is proving crucial, with more newcomers coming in to increase a population that would otherwise diminish. But why is population growth – specifically population growth that comes from immigration – a good thing? A larger population has benefits for the economy and society. It means more people bringing skills and experience to the labour market and more people paying taxes, to sustain public services and boost economic growth. It means that Canada is able to maintain its place as an economic powerhouse – alongside countries like Germany, who also have a high immigration rate. As immigration increases and the talent pool continues to change, we will need to do more to make sure that new immigrants can fully contribute and work at a level that matches their professional experience. In coming years, the need for inclusive HR policies and practices, and to develop the intercultural competence of leaders and employees, will be greater than ever.

What’s coming next?

If you’re interested in immigration and employment, two key dates to keep in your calendar are October 25, 2017, when data about immigration, ethnocultural diversity, housing and Indigenous peoples will be released, and November 29, 2017, when we will know more about education, labour, journey to work, language of work, mobility and migration. Here at TRIEC we will be eagerly awaiting those results, which will provide valuable context for our work. Follow us @TRIEC or on LinkedIn to hear our take on this and other current developments and to let us know how they will affect you.