2012 immigration statistics released: Canada remains one of the most immigrant friendly countries in the world

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

The federal government released its 2012 immigration statistics, on Wednesday,with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, touting that, for the seventh consecutive year, "Canada continued the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history."

Last year, 257,515 immigrants entered Canada, a slight jump from 2011 when we accepted 248,751. The government has set an annual target of between 240,000 to 265,000 for the near term.

On a per-capita basis, that makes Canada one of the most immigrant friendly countries in the world. The United States, for example welcomes about a 1 million immigrants per year or roughly 0.4 per cent of its population; Canada, by comparison, welcomes 250,000 which is approximately 0.8 per cent of our population.

[ Related: Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has ‘Bieber like following’ ]

Who deserves credit for Canada's relatively high immigration numbers is up for debate.

Immigration lawyer Michael Niren says it shouldn't be Kenney.

In an email exchange with Yahoo! Canada News, he said that the big increase is through the Provincial Nominee Programs, not the federal programs.

"Notable exceptions is the Super Visa Program for Parents and Grandparents which are temporary not permanent visas," he said.

"So a deeper look at the data reveals that the Feds are not keeping up with the demand. The Provinces should be given the 'golden star' this time around."

A spokesperson from Jason Kenney's office, however, argues that it's the federal government that determines the number of spaces in the Provincial Nominee Program.

"All of the major increases in the [Provincial Nominee] program have occurred under the current federal government and the current Minister of Immigration (who became Minister in 2008)," Ana Curic, Director of Communications for Kenney said in an email to Yahoo!.

"It has more than doubled since 2008.  So it is clear that it is precisely the federal government who should be taking credit for the increase."

Regardless, there has been a push by immigration lawyers like Niren, business groups and economists to increase immigration to Canada. The Globe and Mail editorial board, who last summer did a substantive series about immigration, recommends that Canada up it's immigrant intake to over 400,000 newcomers a year.

Canada needs more immigrants. In some regions and industries, Canada is already short of educated, skilled workers. With birth rates low and lifespans ever longer, those problems will deepen in the future. Worse, our social safety system could become unsustainable.

For a lot of reasons, however, that's a tough sell to the general public.

[ Related: Immigration Minister Jason Kenney defends the transformation of Canada’s immigration system ]

A January 2012 Angus Reid poll suggested that 41 per cent of Canadians believe immigration levels should decrease while 37 per cent said it should stay the same.

Only 15 per cent of those surveyed said that we should welcome more immigrants every year.

Immigration to Canada in 2011 & 2012 by immigrant category:

2011 2012
Family Class 56,452 64,901
Economic Immigrants 156,118 160,617
Refugees 27,873 23,056
Other immigrants 8,305 8,936

Immigration to Canada in 2012 by Province

Province 2012 %
British Columbia 36,176 14.05%
Alberta 35,764 13.89%
Saskatchewan 11,182 4.34%
Manitoba 13,391 5.20%
Ontario 98,826 38.38%
Quebec 55,258 21.46%
New Brunswick 2,224 0.86%
Nova Scotia 2,370 0.92%
Newfoundland 751 0.29%
P.E.I. 1,089 0.42%
Yukon 273 0.11%
N.W.T. 165 0.06%
Nunavut 20 0.01%

(Photo courtesy of Canadian Press)

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