Growing number of immigrants choosing to leave Canada, research says

The news could have big implications for the national economy

Growing number of immigrants choosing to leave Canada, research says

More immigrants in Canada have chosen to leave in recent years according to new research conducted by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and the Conference Board of Canada.

The study found that there had been a steady increase in the rate of immigrants leaving the country since the 1980s, with a recent spike suggesting that the newcomers may not be seeing the benefits of residing in Canada.

Why are immigrants leaving the country?

The report found that there were significant jumps in the annual rates of immigrants that left Canada in 2017 and 2019. In those years, the numbers of departing immigrants reached 20-year highs of 1.1% and 1.18% respectively, higher than the 0.9% average seen after 1982.

Between 2001 and 2021, the number of permanent residents who have taken up citizenship within 10 years following their arrival to the country dropped by 40%.

The report further showed that there were risks to Canada failing to meet the expectations of immigrants as they faced the crises of worsening housing affordability, a strained health-care system, underemployment, and many others.

“It’s a reflection on our broader society and more intractable failings that we have. If immigrants are saying ‘no, thanks’ and moving on, that’s a real existential threat to Canada’s prosperity,” said Daniel Bernhard, chief executive officer of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

“If Canada can’t reverse these issues and can’t provide these vital services and affordability, immigrants will leave,” added Bernhard.

Immigration is viewed as a cornerstone of the federal government’s strategy towards addressing the economic decline brought about by a lower number of works in an aging population.

“We need to wake up and recognize that if we don’t deliver, people will leave. And if they leave, we’re in trouble,” said Bernhard.

“We need to be working harder to make sure that they’re happy here, so that they contribute here, become Canadians and contribute to our shared success. We need to realize that on balance, immigrants may owe Canada less than Canada owes immigrants.”

Immigration has recently proven a contentious issue in Canada, with a survey by Environics Institute showing lessening support for high levels of immigration because of concerns surrounding housing issues.