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Statistics Canada reports record population growth in Q3, population grows by 430,000

Canada is experiencing an extraordinary surge in population growth, reaching historic levels in the third quarter of 2023. This notable increase, with more than 430,000 new residents, has set a record pace not seen since 1957, bringing the country's total population to over 40.5 million, according to recent data from Statistics Canada.

The driving force behind this remarkable growth is the influx of temporary residents, mainly facilitated by international student and temporary foreign worker programs. Over the first nine months of 2023, population growth has already surpassed the total growth for any previous year, including the record-setting numbers of 2022.

The primary contributors to this surge are approximately 313,000 non-permanent residents who arrived in the country during the three-month period. These individuals are primarily holders of work and study permits, with a smaller number being refugee claimants, as reported by Statistics Canada.

While this rapid population growth has some positive aspects, such as contributing to economic expansion and addressing workforce challenges associated with an aging population, it has raised concerns about housing affordability. Experts caution that Canada's struggle to increase home construction is exacerbated by the growing demand for housing.

The impact on housing affordability has also translated into a political challenge for the Liberal government. The party's popularity has faced a decline due to rising concerns about affordability, as revealed in recent polls. Bank of Canada deputy governor Toni Gravelle acknowledged the benefits of immigration but warned of the pressure it adds to an already challenged housing market.

A recent Leger poll indicates that three-quarters of Canadians express concerns about the strain immigration places on housing and healthcare services. Furthermore, there has been a decline in public support for increased immigration compared to March 2022.

In response to these concerns, the Liberal government has taken steps to address the influx of international students. Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced new rules in October to combat fraud in the international student program, emphasizing the government's commitment to crack down on dubious post-secondary institutions.

However, some critics argue that more needs to be done. Mikal Skuterud, an economics professor at the University of Waterloo specializing in immigration policy, suggests the government should provide more data on the outcomes experienced by international students to help prospective applicants make informed decisions. Skuterud also advocates for measures to temper the flow of temporary residents, expressing concern about the potential risks associated with allowing international students to work up to 20 hours a week.

The surge in temporary residents is not solely attributed to international students but is also fueled by businesses' demand for migrant workers. Skuterud criticizes the government for making it easier for businesses to bring in migrant workers, particularly through the low-wage stream of the program. He recommends a revisit to 2014 reforms that made it more challenging for businesses to access temporary foreign workers.

As Canada grapples with the implications of its fastest population growth in history, striking a balance between economic benefits and the well-being of its citizens remains a critical challenge for policymakers.



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