October 21, 2023

Nearly One Million Temporary Residents Call Canada Home

Canada has long been celebrated as a land of diverse cultures and welcoming opportunities. Recently, a study titled "Non-permanent residents in Canada: a portrait of a growing population from the 2021 Census," conducted by Statistic Canada, shed light on the remarkable growth of the non-permanent resident (NPR) population. With close to one million NPRs calling Canada their temporary home in 2021, these individuals, including temporary foreign workers, international students, and asylum seekers, contribute to the vibrancy and vitality of Canadian society. This comprehensive article delves into the findings of the study, exploring the reasons behind the temporary residence, demographic characteristics, country of origin, language proficiency, labor force participation, and the utilization of skills among NPRs.


The Rising Presence of Non-Permanent Residents:

The study revealed that NPRs accounted for 2.5% of Canada's total population, with nearly one million individuals residing temporarily in the country. Among them, the largest group held work permits (40.1%), followed by those with both work and study permits (14.2%), study permits alone (21.9%), and individuals seeking refugee protection (15.1%). The remaining NPRs represented a mix of temporary resident permit holders, family members of NPRs, and parent and grandparent super visa holders.


Youthful Demographics and Age Distribution:

One striking characteristic of NPRs is their youthful demographic profile. Approximately 60% of NPRs in the 2021 Census fell within the age group of 20 to 34 years. This trend can be attributed to the prevalence of work and study permit holders, who are typically young adults seeking educational or professional opportunities. In comparison, young adults accounted for 37.3% of recent immigrants and 18.4% of the rest of the Canadian population.


Origins: India and China Lead the Way:

When it comes to the birthplaces of NPRs in Canada, India and China emerged as the top countries, representing 28.5% and 10.5% of NPRs, respectively. However, NPRs hailed from various countries around the world, enriching Canada's cultural fabric. While India and China dominated in most provinces, Quebec stood out with France as the primary birthplace for NPRs (20.4%). Notably, the birthplace distribution among asylum seekers varied across provinces, with Nigeria (10.7%) leading the list, followed by India (8.3%) and Mexico (8.1%).


Language Proficiency: Connecting Through Official Languages:

Canada's linguistic tapestry is enriched by the diverse backgrounds of its NPRs. An astounding 95.3% of NPRs showcased their linguistic prowess, reporting knowledge of at least one official language. The language skills were particularly remarkable among NPRs with study permits (97.7%) and work and study permits (99%), where proficiency in English or French was the norm. Even among asylum claimants, an impressive majority (86.7%) possessed language abilities. English fluency predominated outside of Quebec (94.8%), while familiarity with French was more limited (4.6%). However, within the province of Quebec, a significant proportion of NPRs (68.4%) exhibited proficiency in the French language, adding to the region's linguistic fabric.


Fueling the Workforce: NPRs' Labor Force Participation:

As Canada grapples with an aging population, declining fertility rates, and a shortage of skilled workers, the contributions of NPRs become increasingly vital in invigorating the economy and filling critical job positions. The study's findings shed light on the significant role played by NPRs in Canada's labor force. Impressively, NPRs exhibited a high labor force participation rate of 74.2%, surpassing the rate of the general population, which stood at 63.4%. Sales and service occupations emerged as the dominant field among NPRs aged 15 and above, comprising 36.4% of their workforce, in contrast to the 25% representation in the wider Canadian population. Notably, asylum claimants showcased a unique occupational profile, with a notable presence in trades, transportation and equipment operation, manufacturing and utilities, as well as health occupations. Their diverse skill sets and contributions help address Canada's labor needs and drive economic growth in key sectors.


Skill Utilization: Unleashing the Potential of NPRs:

NPRs often boast higher educational achievements compared to the general population, yet their career trajectories sometimes lead them into occupations that do not necessitate formal education. The study revealed a notable discrepancy, with 23.7% of NPRs finding themselves in such positions, in contrast to 15.7% in the rest of the population. A surprising revelation emerged when examining NPRs with a bachelor's degree or higher in 2021 – a significant 32.4% were overqualified for their current roles. This proportion exceeded that of recent immigrants at 26.2% and the Canadian population at 15.9%. Interestingly, the study also discovered that the origin of the degree, whether obtained in Canada or abroad, had little bearing on the rates of over-qualification. Both foreign credentials (34%) and domestic credentials (28.1%) exhibited comparable rates, pointing to a complex employment landscape for highly educated NPRs in the country.



Canada's non-permanent resident population, comprised of temporary foreign workers, international students, and asylum seekers, continues to grow and make invaluable contributions to the nation's social, economic, and cultural landscape. The study conducted by Statistic Canada provides a glimpse into the diverse nature of NPRs, their demographic characteristics, country of origin, language skills, labor force participation, and skill utilization. By embracing the talents and potential of NPRs, Canada strengthens its reputation as a welcoming and inclusive nation that thrives on the richness of its multicultural society.


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