Canada's Population Trends, Challenges & Outlook

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  • 0:00 Basic Facts About…
  • 0:53 Immigration
  • 2:34 Fertility Rates
  • 3:17 Internal Migration
  • 4:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

While it may only have a tenth of the population of the United States, Canada admits proportionally a much larger number of immigrants. In this lesson, we'll see how important those immigrants are to Canada's population.

Basic Facts About Canada's Population

When you think about countries that are having issues with populations, chances are you don't think about Canada. After all, Canada is just so stable. It has 35 million people, the vast majority of whom live within a hundred miles of the United States. In fact, when most people put the words 'Canada' and 'immigration' in the same sentence, it's normally some attempt at a joke about Justin Bieber or a threat to move to Canada if an election does not go their way. Not to offend any Beliebers out there, but the fact is that Canada has population issues far beyond the mobs of fans that he has. Canada faces a paradox. On one hand, the native-born population is growing somewhat suspicious of new immigrants coming in and taking their jobs. On the other hand, Canada would be unable to keep a stable population without the arrival of new immigrants.


Canada and the United States enjoy a very close relationship, and in many ways, Canadian culture is very similar to American culture. While there are some differences (Canada has Mounties and poutine; the U.S. has the police and French fries), both share a belief in the ideas of freedom and democracy and that hard work should result in an economically successful life. When combined with the fact that Canada has much more open immigration policies than the United States, it is no surprise that more than a quarter of a million people move to Canada every year. While that may not sound like much, remember that Canada is only about 10% of the population of the United States - it would be like the United States adding a new Chicago every year.

Traditionally, Canada has had a pretty liberal attitude towards new immigrants. One of the world's largest Chinatowns exists in Vancouver, for example. Canada is also very easy for many people to immigrate to due to the fact that it has two official languages. If you can speak either French or English, then you can get government services and pass a very important hurdle to securing the right to remain in Canada.

Still, there is some controversy with so many immigrants. Currently, immigrants can become Canadian citizens after three years of residency. In recent years, native sentiments against new immigrants have begun to build. This anti-immigrant feeling is coupled with increasing concerns about terrorism and illegal immigration. As a result, some proposals to create a class of citizenship for naturalized Canadians that can be revoked by the government has started to gather some attention.

Fertility Rates

But there's another side to the story: Canada needs its immigrants. 35 million is small compared to the United States. Now imagine if there wasn't immigration to Canada - the number would be even smaller. However, it's not just the influx of new immigrants every year, it's the fact that new immigrants tend to have larger families than native Canadians. The average Canadian-born woman has 1.6 children in her lifetime. That means that without immigrants, Canada would start to shrink. In fact, between 2000-2010, most of Canada's 1.1% population growth came from immigrants, not new births.

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