Immigration is one of the most important ways in which Canada will grow its population in the decades ahead. Canada needs a system that is easy to navigate, provides a positive and welcoming experience, and encourages immigrants to stay.
Indicators in this section assess factors that attract immigrants to Canada, and the experience and well-being of immigrants once they arrive.
The report discusses opportunities to increase permanent immigration in the context of Covid-19 and the challenges immigrants have faced during the pandemic. It also considers the barriers immigrants face in fully contributing their knowledge and skills to our society and economy.
The gap between immigrants and non-immigrants with a bachelor’s degree or higher grew between 2011 and 2016. The gap has fluctuated over the last two decades.
In 2016, there was a difference of $14,409 between the median employment income of immigrants and non-immigrants who held a university certificate, diploma or degree at a bachelor level or higher.
Narrowing the income gap between immigrants and non-immigrants with comparable educational attainment.
Persistent over-qualification of immigrants (immigrants holding jobs that require lower levels of education than what they possess) is an issue reflected in the gap. There are typically wider gaps for immigrants admitted in the family and refugee class than in the economic class, and for racialized immigrants. Across all immigration classes, the income gap is larger for women than men. This means that the human capital potential of immigrants is not being fully or effectively used and the skills of immigrants are not being effectively matched to labour market needs.
Canada's immigration retention rate is generally high. On average, almost half of immigrants in the five provinces with the lowest retention rates depart within five years and frequently to other provinces. While some provinces with low retention rates have improved retention in recent years, more attention is still needed to raise retention to levels comparable to the country overall.
The average retention rate for immigrants who arrived five years earlier was 52.4% in 2016 in the provinces with the five lowest retention rates (Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba)
More even retention across Canada aligning to the overall Canadian retention rate, which was 85.9% of immigrants who had immigrated five years earlier in 2016.
Immigrant retention is an important indicator of success, but there are significant regional variations. While national-level retention paints a positive picture, Canada’s future prosperity depends on the ability of all provinces to retain immigrants—particularly in parts of the country where need is likely to be higher. There has been some success in retaining immigrants regionally through the Provincial Nominee program and Atlantic Immigration Pilot.
Canada has seen significant growth in the number of new permanent residents who previously had international student status in Canada. The number of new permanent residents admitted who previously had international student status doubled between 2015 and 2019.
Canada admitted 58,515 permanent residents in 2019 who had previously held a study permit.
Trending toward increasing admissions of permanent residents who held study permits in the past.
Policy changes over the last 20 years, and particularly in more recent years, have made international student migration to Canada a clearer pathway for potential permanent immigration. International student numbers have grown substantially since then, and international student migration will be an important contributor to Canada’s future growth and prosperity.
Canada was at the top of Gallup's Migrant Acceptance Index in 2019.
Canada ranked 1st in the 2019 edition of Gallup's Migrant Acceptance Index with a score of 8.46 (out of a possible 9.0).
Top 5 countries on Gallup's Migrant Acceptance Index.
Threshold: 5th on the index was Sierra Leone with a score of 8.14 in 2019.
The Migrant Acceptance Index assesses societal acceptance based on three questions: whether people think migrants living in their country, becoming their neighbours and marrying into their families are positive or negative. Migrant acceptance is closely connected to the well-being of immigrants. While migrant acceptance is high in Canada, many immigrants still face challenges stemming from discrimination and systemic racism.
Canada is currently in the OECD's top 10 based on data analyzed by the OECD between 2008 and 2015.
Canada ranked 6th out of 33 OECD countries in terms of reported life satisfaction among the foreign-born population.
Canada's foreign-born population reports a mean score of 7.3 (on a scale from 0 to 10) in terms of life satisfaction as of 2018.
Top 10 of OECD countries.
Threshold: 10th in the OECD as of 2018 was the United States with a mean score of 7.0.
Life satisfaction is a key measure of whether immigrants are succeeding in their arrival destination, factoring into retention, integration and overall well-being. While immigrant life satisfaction is high in Canada, there is still a gap in self-reported life satisfaction between immigrants and those born in Canada.
Canada has declined in rankings in recent years but remains among the top 10 countries in terms of its reputation.
Canada ranked 6th out of 55 countries in 2019.
Top 10 of RepTrak's country rankings.
RepTrak global reputation rankings are based on public opinion data and are published annually in Forbes Magazine. Canada’s strong reputation can be leveraged for attractiveness as an immigration destination, as well as for investment, exports and tourism.