Immigrants pooling in just three cities
February 19, 2020
If three cities are taken out of the equation, the rest of Canada is seeing only about 56,000 new immigrants a year, according to new Statistics Canada data, despite immigration levels hitting unprecedented highs.
After the federal government began boosting immigration acceptance levels four years ago, the pace of inbound immigration to Canada has become the fastest among G7 nations—but studies say newcomers are primarily settling in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Greater Montreal and Metro Vancouver.
The third quarter of 2019 saw 208,234 immigrants arrive—the highest for any single quarter in Canadian history.
Nearly 90 per cent of immigrants in the year ending September 30, 2019, went to three provinces, Statistics Canada reported. This amounted to approximately 209,200 immigrants to Ontario, 89,400 to Quebec and 65,000 to British Columbia.
But newcomers are not moving to Thunder Bay, LaChute or Williams Lake. Surveys have consistently shown that immigrants are pooling in the biggest urban centres of these three provinces. In B.C., for example, more than 92 per cent of new immigrants move into the dominant urban centre—Metro Vancouver and the suburban Lower Mainland—and a similar trend is seen in Ontario and Quebec. In Ontario, 97 per cent of immigrants settle in the Golden Horseshoe region, with 77 per cent of these in the GTA. This is almost the same as adding a city the size of Windsor to Ontario every year.
The Quebec government recently moved to reduce annual immigration levels by 20 per cent which may put further growth pressure on Toronto and Vancouver.
The biggest cities will gain the most from immigration levels that will drive an unprecedented housing boom, according to Dominion Lending Centres chief economist Sherry Cooper. In a recent analysis, Cooper stated that this demand for housing is also feeding into a greater need for professionals like construction workers and electricians—industries that are seeing an increasing proportion of immigrants.
Newcomers to Canada now represent one in five home sales in Canada, according to a survey by Royal LePage, which found that 85 per cent of immigrants purchased in their first city of residence. The 2018 study estimated that newcomers, defined as those arriving in the past 10 years, would buy 680,000 homes over the next five years—and it appears that the vast majority of those will be in Greater Toronto and Metro Vancouver.