Number Of Non-Permanent Residents Continues To Grow In Canada

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Broadway bridge and Saskatoon skyline at night, Saskatchewan. / Jay Van Doornum

A new study by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) reveals that the number of non-permanent residents living in Canada has more than doubled within the last decade.

The CIBC study found that the number of non-permanent individuals living in Canada under the age of 45 grew to 770,000 over the last decade, greatly impacting the areas in which they reside. In a country whose entire population numbers only about 35 million, the considerable growth in the number of younger non-permanent residents is notable; the impact of these non-permanent residents is felt the most in two provinces—British Columbia and Ontario—where the majority of them reside.

The CIBC study also revealed that almost half of the non-permanent residents were temporary foreign workers or workers employed on contract; the survey indicated that the number of those individuals had increased by about 10 percent over the last decade.

Other facts revealed by the study include the fact that 38 percent of non-permanent residents in Canada were students—an increase of five percent over the last 10 years—while the number of refugees awaiting word on their permanent status had decreased to 12.2 percent.

Of the more than 384,000 non-permanent residents who were temporary foreign workers, many were employed in mid-level positions and had ‘expectations’ of eventually gaining permanent residency within Canada.

An important finding of the survey was that more than 95 percent of the total number of non-permanent Canadian residents were under age 45, in direct contrast to the aging of the overall Canadian population.

However, one somewhat surprising finding of the survey was that the impact of the non-permanent resident group was felt more in BC and Ontario than in the provinces with the greater labor shortages—Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  According to the survey, the number of non-permanent residents tripled in Ontario over the last decade; without the addition of those people to Ontario’s population, the province would have seen a decline of about 120,000 during that same period.

Meanwhile, in BC, the number of people aged 25-44 would have remained stagnant if the non-permanent resident population hadn’t doubled over the last decade.

The survey also clearly illustrated the economic impact made by the non-permanent residents in the two provinces within which the majority reside—Ontario and British Columbia.

The report’s author, Benjamin Tal, pointed out that the two provinces that experienced the strongest housing markets were also the ones with the most non-permanent residents..

“”It is not a coincidence that those two provinces are also the ones to experience long-lasting strong housing market activity,” Tal explained in the survey.  That fact will likely be taken into consideration as the federal government moves forward with revamping its temporary foreign worker program.

Tal also pointed out that the numbers used in the survey—from 2013–may well underestimate the current numbers of non-permanent residents, given that there had been a 14 percent growth in the number of permits for temporary foreign workers in the ensuing years.