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Background Information | Canada |

Canada 2015 Onwards Background Information Development of Immigration Immigration Flows Immigrant Population Ethnic Origins Citizenship Integration Policy Multiculturalism Irregular Migration Refuge and Asylum Current Issues References

Background Information

Jennifer Elrick

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Since the 1980s, Canada has accepted more immigrants and refugees for permanent settlement in proportion to its population than any other country in the world.

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During the twentieth century, the country’s immigration policy was transformed from a mechanism for keeping people of non-European origin out into a tool for selecting a mixture of newcomers – regardless of origin – designed to fuel the country’s economic and demographic growth. Despite consistently high levels of immigration and increasing diversity, especially in urban centers, Canada has not experienced the kind of political backlash against immigration and multiculturalism seen in most European countries during the past decade.

In Europe and elsewhere, Canada’s immigration policy – at least the component referred to as the "point system" – is often regarded as a model to be emulated. In recent years, however, the system upon which this Canadian success story is based has begun to change fundamentally. Three policy shifts in particular are of concern to migration researchers: (1) the expansion of temporary migration channels, (2) the more restrictive and conditional approach to permanent immigration and (3) the devolution of power over immigrant selection from the federal to the provincial level. All three changes have been introduced in order to address perceived shortcomings, especially the increasing labor market difficulties of highly-skilled immigrants since the 1990s and untenably long processing times for reviewing immigration applications. Whether or not these recent changes will have the economic effect that policy-makers desire is unclear. There are growing concerns that they may have negative consequences for aspects of immigrant integration beyond the economic sphere.

Background Information Canada

Capital: Ottawa
Official languages: English and French
Area: 9,984,670 km2
Population (2011): 33,476,688
Population density (2011): 3.7 persons per km2
Population growth (2006-2011): + 5.9%
Labor force participation rate (04/2013): 66.7%
Foreign-born population as a percentage of total (2011): 20.6%
Unemployment rate (04/2013): 7.2%
Religions (2011): Roman Catholic (38.7%), Protestant and ‘other Christian’(15.6%), Muslim (3.25%), Christian Orthodox (1.7%), Hindu (1.5%), Sikh (1.4%), Buddhist (1.1%), Jewish (1.0%) no religious affiliation (23.9%)

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Jennifer Elrick is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on family-related immigration policies in Canada and Germany since 1945. E-Mail Link: