More than a quarter of Canada’s new permanent residents in 2020 came through family sponsorship programs, as they remained an important source of newcomers to Canada during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In the first 11 months of last year – the most recent month for which figures are available – Statistics Canada reports that 173,865 people set up permanent residence in Canada.
That was a huge drop from the total number of permanent residents Canada gained in the first 11 months of the previous year.
From January through to the end of November, the COVID-19 global pandemic led to border restrictions that severely hampered international travel.
This slashed the number of new permanent residents to Canada in the first 11 months of 2020 by 45.7 per cent from the 320,260 new permanent residents Canada gained in the comparable period in 2019. During that entire year, Canada gained 341,175 new permanent residents.
But the COVID-19 pandemic last year – a worldwide health crisis that continues unabated even now – did not prevent family sponsorships from being as important a share of new permanent residents last year as in 2019.
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Although the total number of new permanent residents fell markedly during the pandemic, family sponsorship streams continued to contribute more than 25.5 per cent of the total number of new permanent residents to Canada in the first 11 months of 2020.
That relative importance of family sponsorship programs as a source of new permanent residents remained virtually unchanged last year from the comparable period in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic when these programs accounted for 26.4 per cent of new permanent residents to Canada.
One of the fastest and most popular ways to gain permanent residence in Canada, family sponsorship programs allow a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, aged 18 or more, to sponsor certain family members so they can become Canadian permanent residents.
With that permanent residence, those family members are then able to live, study and work in Canada.
In the first 11 months of 2020, family sponsorship programs allowed 44,285 people to become new permanent residents in Canada
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Perhaps not surprisingly, almost half, more than 46 per cent or 20,370 of them, went to Canada’s biggest province, Ontario. The next most popular destinations, in order of popularity for family sponsorships, were British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.
The smallest number of new permanent residents went to the sparsely-populated territory of Nunavut, which saw only 10 new permanent residents from sponsorship programs in the first 10 months of 2020, followed by the Yukon with 40 and the Northwest Territories with 40 new permanent residents through these programs during that period.
Among the Canadian provinces, the fewest number of new permanent residents through family sponsorship programs in the first 11 months of 2020 were the 60 who went to the small Maritime province of Prince Edward Island, followed by 130 who chose to make the move to Newfoundland and Labrador and the 220 who became permanent residents of New Brunswick.
Nova Scotia gained 440 new permanent residents through sponsorship programs in the first 11 months of last year, Manitoba 1,325, and Saskatchewan 1,000.