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Canada clocks fastest population growth in 66 years in 2023

Scenes as the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) kicks off

By Promit Mukherjee

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's population touched a record high of 40.77 million in 2023, largely driven by temporary immigration, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday. The country added 1.27 million people in 2023, up 3.2% from the previous year - marking the highest growth since 1957.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

The influx of immigrants has been blamed for a housing shortage that has pushed up house prices and sent affordability to new lows, hurting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's approval ratings. The population growth has also pulled down the country's gross domestic product per capita figures as seen in the last quarter as well as productivity levels, economists and the Bank of Canada have said.

KEY QUOTES

"In 2023, the vast majority (97.6%) of Canada's population growth came from international migration (both permanent and temporary immigration) and the remaining portion (2.4%) came from natural increase," Statscan said in a statement.

"This was the second straight year that temporary immigration drove population growth and the third year in a row with a net increase of NPRs (non-permanent residents)," it said.

CONTEXT

Canada has heavily relied on immigration to boost its labor force and economic growth, with almost a quarter of its population being non-native born Canadian residents in 2021, according to IMF's 2021 report. That is the highest level among the G7 nations.

But in the last few months Trudeau's Liberal government has tried to counter pressure through measures to cap the number of international students and non-permanent residents that can come into Canada each year.

BY THE NUMBERS

It is estimated that 2,661,784 non-permanent residents were living in Canada on January 1, 2024, Statscan data showed. Among them, 2,332,886 were permit holders and their family members living with them, and 328,898 were asylum claimants with or without work or study permits.

(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee, editing by Deepa Babington)