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By Ismail Shakil

Record international migration spurs historic rise in Canadian population

FILE PHOTO: Migrants, refugees, undocumented workers and their supporters rally outside the office Canada's Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in Toronto, Ontario, Canada July 4, 2020. REUTERS/Chris Helgren//File Photo

Canada's population increased by more than a million people for the first time in history in 2022, almost entirely due to a surge in immigrants and temporary residents, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday.

Total population grew by a record 1.05 million people to 39.57 million in the twelve months to Jan. 1, 2023, and about 96% of the rise was due to international migration, the statistics agency said.

FILE PHOTO: Zulema Diaz, who crossed from the U.S. border to Roxham Road in Quebec, rides an escalator, in a hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada March 7, 2023. Zulema is trying to form online groups with the many Latinos seeking asylum in Canada, to help each other with the tedious paperwork. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/File Photo

The increase, which helped Canada retain its position as the fastest growing G7 country, translates to a population growth rate of 2.7% and such a rate would lead to the population doubling in about 26 years, the agency said.

Canada depends on immigration to drive its economy and support an aging population, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government sharply ramped up immigration since taking power in 2015.

Ottawa has also been running special schemes to temporarily take in people impacted by crises like the Ukraine war, instability in Afghanistan, or the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

FILE PHOTO: People rally for migrants rights outside of the hotel and convention centre where Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets all his federal ministers over the next three days, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada January 23, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/File Photo

In 2022, Canada welcomed 437,180 immigrants and the number of non-permanent residents increased by a net 607,782 people. Both figures are highest levels on record and reflect "higher immigration targets and a record-breaking year for the processing of immigration applications," Statscan said.

The agency counts both permanent and non-permanent residents in addition to net new births in calculating population figures.

Canada has been experiencing an upward trend in total employment since September, and the statistics agency has previously said that non-permanent residents are a notable contributor to that gain.

FILE PHOTO: Travellers crowd the security queue in the departures lounge at the start of the Victoria Day holiday long weekend at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 20, 2022. REUTERS/Cole Burston/File Photo

Immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada's labor force growth and by 2036 immigrants are projected to be about 30% of Canada's population, up from 20.7% in 2011, according to Canada's immigration ministry.

Under a three-year plan announced in November, the Trudeau government wants to continue increasing annual immigration targets, with a goal to grant permanent residency to 465,000 people in 2023 and increasing that goal to 500,000 people by 2025.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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