Canada’s Population Boom Fueled By Underutilized Immigrants With Insufficient Shelter: RBC

Canada is winning when it comes to attracting immigrants, but failing to use its windfall. That was the take from RBC examining the immigration boom that makes up nearly all growth. In an email to investors, they explain the immigrants are younger and better educated than Canada’s domestic workforce. However, they were more likely to be overqualified for their job, and have worse housing. If Canada doesn’t correct course, it risks exacerbating the issues it’s trying to solve.

Canada Is Winning The Immigration Talent Lottery, & It Needs It

Canada is pursuing an aggressive immigration plan, and it’s been very effective. The country averaged 7 immigrants per 1,000 people from 2010 to 2019. It tops the G7, beating the US that previously held the top spot before Canada. It’s a good thing too, because Canada is a demographic time bomb. 

Canada is hoping immigrants can resolve its upcoming demographic cliff. In 2021, immigration accounted for 90% of the country’s population growth. By 2050, Statistics Canada estimates 100% of growth will be based on immigration. If immigration fails to keep up, deaths would easily outpace births.

That aging population is also leaving a skill gap, as they begin to retire. Canada is targeting 1.5 million immigrants over the next 3 years. It’s also hoping that half of them are economic migrants, bringing their skills. That should help with the near-record job vacancies, and slow wage-related inflation. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds—immigrants also introduce demand and dependents.

“Indeed, new immigrants can fill open positions, but they also increase demand for housing and consumer goods which in turn raises demand for labor,” writes Nathan Janzen, assistant chief economist at RBC, Canada’s largest bank. 

Adding, “higher levels of immigration alone won’t ‘fix’ longer-run structural labor supply issues—but they’ll help. They could help even more if immigrant skill sets were better utilized.” 

Canada’s Immigrants Are Better Educated Than Its Local Workforce

Canada is the winner of the immigration lottery—they’re young, and well educated. The bank’s analysis shows over a third have advanced degrees, such as a bachelor’s degree or higher. This contrasts with just a fifth of the domestic workforce having an advanced degree. 

Immigrants are also more likely to have studied in areas that drive innovation. “Immigrants with higher education are also more likely to have majored in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and math) than their non-immigrant peers,” writes Janzen. 

Canada Is Winning, But Its Immigrants Are Losing

Unfortunately, like many lottery winners, Canada wasn’t prepared and is squandering its windfall. Immigrants are more likely to be underutilized, or overqualified for their job. The share of underutilized immigrants (29.8%) is much higher than non-immigrants (4.5%).

Canada’s Highly-Skilled Immigrants Are Overqualified For The Jobs They’re Getting

The share of workers overqualified for their job by immigration status.

Source: Statistics Canada; RBC Economics; Better Dwelling.

“By our count, immigrants with a degree in those fields are six times more likely to work in jobs that do not require related training,” said Janzen. 

“Proper integration of their skills could help address worker shortages, add to a more productive labor force and offset increased pressure on inflation and housing.” 

Canada’s Immigrants Are Also More Likely To Face Inadequate Housing

Speaking of housing, Canada’s immigrants are more likely to face the brunt of its crisis. Immigrants (16%) are more than twice as likely as non-immigrants (7%) to live in an unsuitable dwelling. Shelter poverty, spending over 30% of income, was also more likely for immigrants (21%) than non-immigrants (13%). Another issue that underutilization likely plays a major role in.

Canada’s Immigrants Are More Likely To Have Inadequate Housing

The share of non-immigrants and immigrants facing shelter poverty (costs are 30% or more of income), and unsuitable dwelling (inadequate or unaffordable).

Source: Statistics Canada; RBC Economics; Better Dwelling.

The bank suggests policymakers work on labor utilization to tap the immigration windfall. Policies tend to favor migrants with impressive credentials. However, the domestic job market doesn’t recognize those skills. Attracting an accountant is great, but irrelevant if they’re stuck doing general labor. 

“Proper integration of their skills could help address worker shortages, add to a more productive labor force and offset increased pressure on inflation and housing,” says Janzen. 



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  • Ethan Wu 1 year ago

    Canada’s colonial mindset on full display. It gets media to whitewash their exploitation as help, and locals can’t imagine that immigrants are leaving countries with promising futures based on the grift we pitch abroad.

    • Dave Pelanek 1 year ago

      Colonial mindset, really ? Then what made you or your ancestors decide to come to such a vile country ?

      What was promised ? A solution for would-be immigrants could be to do some research before applying. They could realize as you did that Canada still has a “colonial mindset” as you put it, and decide to immigrate somewhere else.

    • Justaguy 1 year ago

      You are so right about the Colonialism.
      But, don’t forget, that Canada was built with the immigration of people exploited from other countries.

  • Mark Bayky 1 year ago

    Immigration helps a country when you use them for their labour and send them back where they came from. Once you become their sugar daddy you are losing money on them. If immigration was the greatest thing since sliced bread the Immigration capital of the world Ontario would have a 500 billion dollar surplus not a 500 billion dollar debt.

    • ep 1 year ago

      The whole world economy works on debt. Govt’s have no plan or interest to create surpluses.

      • Dan 1 year ago

        “RBC; they explain the immigrants are younger and better educated than Canada’s domestic workforce”

        so why are there so many international students from china and india coming to canada to study if their education is better?

    • Justaguy 1 year ago

      Ontario’s debt has nothing to do with immigration.

  • Ray 1 year ago

    Canada is importing people with no money. They’re all coming here thinking land of milk and honey. When they realize they’ve been duped, many are looking for the exits. That’s what RBC is trying to say.

    • ep 1 year ago

      The whole world economy works on debt. Govt’s have no plan or interest to create surpluses.

    • Justaguy 1 year ago

      Canada is a very expensive country to live in and its hard to start with nothing.

  • KHURRAM BUTT 1 year ago

    Immigrants come here thinking it’s the land of milk and honey cuz that’s what the advertising billboard says. As for underutilizing immigrant talent is concerned, RBC could look inhouse. They hire experienced and talented people at starting positions on the excuse that the applicant doesn’t have “local experience”. Most times the hiring manager is scared s**tless of the applicant’s experience and skill level.

  • J 1 year ago

    It’s tough, while working security while reschooling for Automation and Robotics, I met one too many immigrant dads with decades of professional credentials and highly educated stuck doing minimum wage jobs to support their families. Governments and businesses need to do more to open doors. How are people suppose to gain Canadian experience in their field driving ubers and acting as concierges to Amazon addicts?

  • Joe Smith 1 year ago

    My ancestors immigrated here in 1815. Even though my family has been here for generations I no longer consider Canada my “home”. It is just a place where I’m working until I’ve earned my indexed municipal pension. I will spend it someplace warm while this country becomes an impoverished South Asian colony.

  • sam 1 year ago

    Stop all immigration till enough housing is built.

  • Ron Bruce 1 year ago

    Feb 6, 2023 — Google on Monday announced an artificial intelligence chatbot technology called Bard that the company will begin rolling out in the coming weeks to compete with ChatGPK.
    When a University student who never studied for an MBA or purchased a book can receive a B+ on one of their assignments, it changes the educational paradigm.

    After listening to a short ChatGPK tutorial, I can now code. I’m not a professional coder, but doors are opening up in multiple fields.

    My environmental footprint as a Canadian since birth is the same as it always was, where my and my parent’s tax dollars helped build the county’s infrastructure (i.e. roads, hospitals, schools, military, etc. )

  • Skaffen 1 year ago

    This is nonsense on so many levels. It’s irrelevant if an immigrant has a degree overseas. If a Canadian employer doesn’t see value in their skills, that’s it. There’s a mismatch and the rapidly rising amount of government subsidies and incentives for hiring immigrants won’t change a thing.

    When my father immigrated to Canada from England in the 1970s, he had to have a job lined up, which he did via an overseas hiring fair. When that job disappeared shortly after he arrived, he had to find another or be deported.

    Compounding the problem of mismatched skills is the rapidly expanding welfare state to the point that the average immigrant annually consumes $6000 more of services than they pay in taxes. This persists for years after arrival and the total adds up to the annual budgets of some provinces.

    Next is the idea that immigration is needed to replace falling birth rates. But why are birth rates falling? Because government mismanagement has driven up the cost of housing, food and overall living while making healthcare, education and urban safety increasingly worse. It’s a daunting outlook for people planning a family.

    Finally, there’s the literally insane decision to import 500,000 people a year into a country with some of the worst housing and healthcare conditions in the developed world. There are zero arguments for this policy except for the one that matters to the governing political parties; and that’s the fact that new citizens overwhelmingly vote for them.

  • W8 1 year ago

    What’s the benefit of a STEM degree in Canada? Qualified for jobs that don’t exist here.

    For close to 20 years, it’s been more profitable to speculate on common stock housing than to create productive business and jobs (much easier to borrow for too!).

    It’s going to take time to work thru decade+ of such malinvestment.

  • Dave Pelanek 1 year ago

    There’s a few things here that are misleading.
    The author mentions “advanced degrees”, but from third world countries, i.e. not up to par with our standards. And Let’s not forget that it’s relatively easy to get fake degrees from abroad. I watched a one hour documentary recently showing how easy the process can be.

    Also, the language barrier is an issue. I work in a big firm and they hire a lot of IT people from south east Asia. It’s difficult in terms of communication. There should be intensive english (or french) classes for a certain period of time before they enter the labor market.

    In terms of shelter issues, well, that simply isn’t just an issue for immigrants. We all know who’s mostly to blame for that. His initials are J.T.

  • Allison 1 year ago

    What does “better educated” mean? That they all have masters degrees? They all went to Harvard? Seems like a loaded claim.

  • Fm 1 year ago

    I am an immigrant who came toCanada from Africa in the 1975….this is. Not the same Canada we loved and supported. It is an eroding country..for many reasons.

    Immigrants to Canada are attracted by the social system, reasonable pay, free health care.
    The income however is dwarfed by the expense side of “Living”. Rent, food costs, medication costs outweigh any benefits.
    The MYTH EXPLAINED as a warning to IMMIGRANTS
    1.Expenses in The metropolitan areas of Canada eg Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal is unaffordableWhether you rent a 2 bedroom apartment or home at around 3,000 dollars..or want to own an average home..where an annual income of 180,000 Canadian dollars is needed..few immigrants, even skilled ones can afford.
    2. Inflation above 6%, but salary adjustments annually of 1-2%, makes the dollar buy less each succeeding year.
    3. High cost of entertainment , sports events, or sporting and outdoor activities, makes quality of life in beautiful Canada an elusive desire..where the wealthy can afford and the immigrants cannot experience
    4. Overcrowded subway systems, new inefficiencies and Transport costs whether public or private increase each year, coupled with crime, shootings etc on the much for Toronto The Good
    5.Gridlock on the highways and ways with poor road etiquette, increasing rudeness and unnecessary aggressive driving, makes road a danger with road death tolls to both vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians on the rise
    6, Declining Health care system, now resembling a 2 nd world system..long wait lists, crowded ER, and an increasing 2 tier system making quality healthcare..a heretofore .. “ carrot” dangling to attract immigrants and foreigners and industry..much less appetizing
    7. Non descript immigration of unskilled labour and an over- abundance of refugees compared to planned immigrants, that drain the health care system and the social security system. 1 skilled and needed worker..bringing in parents, grandparents, extended family, that take more from Canada’s socialized system..than contributes. essentially this extended family.continues to live in the homeland ..whilst drawing on the social benefits, health care system for the chronic disease management…..
    This is eroding the social fabric AND Social systems of Canada.
    Human beings are more self centered, less generous, more greedy, less caring…

  • ID 1 year ago

    First of all this article should start from data which shows what percentage of this “young, well educated immigrants” are STUDENTS who came here to study and NEED FULL TIME JOB TO GET PR/CITIZENSHIP.
    After all would be nice to know how many of this “young, well educated immigrants” move back/further (ie back home or US) after receiving PR/citizenship.
    Without THIS data all this stat is one big BS.

  • Dona Fleming 1 year ago

    There in surrey. The builders of condos and strata homes, are to blame! They are buying up land that is occupied by manufactured parks and replacing them with multiple family dwellings. The problem is that the prices are beyond the average 3to4 people family. There use to be Condison in the building code that there was a mix of homes to buy and rentals to help with affordably of housing for all. So as a result their is not enough rentals for low income families and seniors. Our city desided back in the nineties to set the square footage of a home at a minimal of 2 thousand or more ft. To promote the adding of suits to replace the need for building affordable rental space. The problem with this is there is no minimal sq ft or number of suits in one home, so the landlord can desided how big the house will be. I travel to many of these homes. The suits are so small that at best one person could live in one of these spaces let alone a family. I wonder if one of our politicians should like to live in one of these matchbox suites with there wife and 2 or more of their children and pay between 12oo. And 15oo. Monthly yours truly Dona with 1 n

  • Average Man 1 year ago

    I am pretty far left but am increasingly becoming anti-immigration, partially for pro-immigrant reasons.

    We bring in 450,000 people, a few of them get really successful, then move to the US as Canadian citizens rather than Indian or Pakistani citizens (much easier), a larger but still small number fight their way into the lower rung of the middle class, and a large number either stay stuck working jobs below their skill level, living in bad neighbourhoods, taking long, slow buses to get anywhere and sending their kids to bad schools in order to prop up Baby Boomer real estate values, or else have to go back home worse off than they left. It’s a Ponzi scheme.

    It’s not good for our society, and it’s selling them a false bill of goods.

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