A Canadian Immigration Slowdown? Residency Applications Fall Sharply

Canada’s ambitious plan to grow its population through immigration hit a roadblock—it’s running out of applicants. Government of Canada (GoC) data shows applications received for permanent residency fell sharply in February. Despite record population growth, a soaring cost of living and slowing economy has resulted in a trend of fewer applications since peaking in 2021.

Canada Has Seen A Sharp Drop In Permanent Resident Applications

Canada is receiving significantly less applications to become a permanent resident this year. The GoC reported just 10.6k applications in February, down 37% from January. Compared to last year, this February saw 54% fewer applications—a sharp decline. 

The year kicked off with a similar-sized drop. Only 17k applications were received in January, about half (-49%) of the volume seen last year. That cuts the year to date volume to 27.6k applications, down 51% or 29.2k fewer applications. 

Canada’s Largest Sources of Permanent Residents Are Pulling Back

Canada’s largest sources of permanent resident applications in 2022 are behind the drop. The largest source in 2022 was India, showing a 28% decline year to date in 2023. A year to date drop was seen in all countries that followed for growth last year—Afghanistan (-87%), Philippines (-79%), and China (-57%). 

The first thought that may come to mind is the recent Federal employee strike. However, that began on April 19th, and wouldn’t be a major contributor to the slowdown in these months. Future months are likely to be impacted with strike-related processing delays. Those applications are mostly just pushed into a later window, producing a small bump before trend regression.  

Canada’s Application Decline Won’t Be Enough To Slow Growth

Does this impact the breakneck population growth? Not directly, at least yet. Permanent resident applications take time to process, meaning a slowdown won’t be seen until a year or two later. 

During last year’s massive, record-breaking population boom, there was also a decline. Applications surged in 2021, before falling to 333.8k (-50%) applications in 2022. The 2021 record was a combination of aggressive policy, but also delays from 2020. Applicants physically restricted from applying were also just pushed into this window, before a healthier taper. Well, healthy-ish taper.  

Canada is also sitting on significant application “inventories,” including 634.7k permanent resident applications. About half (51%) are backlogged and outside of service standards. Yes, the term is actually inventories, which says a lot about Canada’s perspective.   

Canada May Look Less Attractive To Global Talent

Declining applications might be a better indicator for declining sentiment. Last year, a survey found that most (64%) recent immigrants felt the high cost of living would deter future immigration. The same survey also revealed 1 in 5 recent immigrants regret moving to Canada, and are considering moving within two years. 

In 2021, Stat Can also revealed that 2 in 5 recent immigrants were unhappy with their ability to find shelter. The data was from a survey they conducted in 2018, back when housing was much more affordable—especially outside of major cities. 

Canada’s goal is to grow its population by 1% per year, primarily through immigration. To put that into perspective, it’s like adding a city larger than Halifax every single year. It’s hard to persistently accomplish, and even harder to continue to provide the environment that will attract immigrants. At some point it becomes clear the trade is one-sided, and immigrants are just economic “inventories” to drive demand.

20 Comments

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  • Mark Bayly 10 months ago

    Demand for government assistance will skyrocket.There are no jobs to support these immigrants. Except for a few highly skilled. Working at Timmy’s is not a job. Certainly no housing is available for anyone.

  • Ray 10 months ago

    That’s because the ones that arrived here, sent word back home. Telling the others not come because it’s worse than they thought. Now many are trying to escape back home to their countries of orgin.

    • Frank 10 months ago

      The federal government dropped the bsll big time. The harsh lockdowns, mandatory vaccinations,no place to live, most left other countries to escape over reach and tyranny. Glad they are sending word back home , Canada IS broken.

    • Sha 10 months ago

      Many of the immigrants are now only applying for Canadian permanent residency because it makes it way easier to immigrate to the United States.

    • Dan 10 months ago

      This policy is making the standard of living going to hell. While they bring in 500k per year, there’s a shortage of nurses and doctors (read longer wait times and worse service), the schools are overcrowded, commute times are worse than ever and on and on. And let’s not even mention housing and home prices. Population growth should be slow and stay just a bit under demand in order not to create outrageous prices but the govt has no other ideas to make the economy grow except to add “inventory” of newcomers.

    • Mike Smith 9 months ago

      #truth

      Canadians know their quality of life has diminished severely under this Liberal government. But they are good at one thing…making a problem they created EVEN WORSE.

      Now word is starting to get out around the WORLD, that paradise is not a neglected basement suite in Brampton or Mississauga.

      Immigration has been the economic heroin or epinephrine keeping the Canadian economy from collapse. Canada is the F.I.R.E. economy. Besides shipping trainloads of coal to China or unrefined petroleum to the US we produce or manufacture almost nothing.

      We need serious people running this country. Lying to immigrants to get them here is not a sustainable model to pin a country’s future on.

  • george 10 months ago

    unless you come from Syria or Ukraine there is absolutely no reason to come to Canada. Only those well vested in real estate are protected in this country and have no idea how the million immigrants coming here soon will be able to afford to live let alone buying any RE. Banks are trying to lower again the rates so the RE circus can continue like the last 20 years so we’re back to business….what a joke

  • Craig R 10 months ago

    We are ripping immigrants off by bringing them here without having infrastructure in place to give them a decent standard of living. “Build it and they will come,” like it says in The Field of Dreams. The Canadian way is bring them here and ask them to build it. Bring hammers and build it for our benefit.

    “Inventory” – That’s probably how all Canadians are thought of by Our Governments. “Cattle” or “Livestock” are terms that are somewhat less demeaning.

  • Nil 10 months ago

    Canada has become a place where immigrants are exploited in promise of a better life but they instead end up spending their lives paying off taxes and mortgage payments. Sad reality that most immigrants are already priced out.

  • JasonB 10 months ago

    Couple this with a authoritarian government that loves censorship, double speak and is obviously corrupt.

  • Scott Roberts 10 months ago

    Why come to a country where you just going to struggle? Sure the jobs might be well paying compared to their country but it’s all relative. The cost of living here is exorbitant. Only rich immigrants need apply. For everyone else, think about it, if all the money goes to shelter and food and there’s no money left over to send back home to family, no money left to save up for a house. So what is the point of moving here? It defeats the purpose.

  • Timothy Stern 10 months ago

    I wonder if this is true of Aus.

  • Ash 10 months ago

    Exactly Ray! The government is naive to think that by not addressing the issues that continue to plague Canada such as high cost of living. That immigrants will mindlessly come to Canada. Nope! And the stats speaks for itself.

  • Ehh 10 months ago

    Immigrants are imported to do the crappy, essential jobs for cheap.

    The 2nd 3rd gen are lazy and take cosy unionized jobs and complain about how busy they are while they sit and watch Netflix from their efh arrangements.

  • Mrk Cland 10 months ago

    Finally some good news for a change LOL

  • Miff Tacklem 10 months ago

    Early last year a Ukrainian family arrived as part of the first group of refugees fleeing conflict. After staying for a year, they have left to re-settle in Greece. When I asked their main reasons for leaving, I was told that they felt they could not build a life here in Canada because the cost of living was far too high and finding adequate affordable housing would be impossible. Our current federal government doesn’t care about immigrants, natural born citizens or anyone else living here. They only care about maintaining power and influence. Sad days in Canada.

  • Jerry 10 months ago

    Yeehaw — the Canadian immigration scam is finally getting out. Canada is ruthless in its exploitation of newcomers & longterm residents alike … a feudalistic meatgrinder, if you will.

  • Sergey 10 months ago

    Coming form Marxist background it is no surprise for me. Here we have a crisis of capitalistic society as a whole. This problem discussed here exists practically in every developed country. You wanna bet it is coincidence? Capitalism had ran out of resources, utility and fresh ideas. They only care for returns on investments preferably via financial machinations or real estate mortgage or rentals passive income. They turned every aspect of human life into investment vehicle or commodity and are trying hard to create positive returns and cash flows for themselves only to the hell with the rest. The government be it liberal or any other party is going to be their puppet, because they buy it and brainwash population to vote either this or that way but the essence is clear. So called democracy is just a fig leaf, the wool being continually pulled in front of population eyes to show there is choice where there is none. Can anyone imagine in democracy, which means power of the people , that this people are being completely grind down by high prices of such essential for life as shelter ?

  • L 10 months ago

    Nice to see you talking about this important but underused metric. I did not know it has officially turned negative, but it certainly matches what I see when I look around me here in coastal BC. I am very sick of the housing crisis. I keep thinking it has to get better, and then it gets even worse, again and again. And it has wrecked havok on a lot of the people I know round here. Or used to know, some of them became homeless and then I never saw them again. Or moved far away, and ditto. I keep wondering how long the good housing situation I’m lucky enough to have will last, and what I’m going to do when I lose it like so many other people I know. I try not to think about it too much. I will probably cram myself into a room in a shared apartment again. If you get decent roommates that can work. Or it can be downright dangerous if you get bad ones, and you don’t always have control over who they are.

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