Temporary Residents Favour Areas Around Major Canadian Cities

Newfoundland & Labrador Says Canada’s Study Permit Cap Ambiguous
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A Conference Board of Canada study reveals Quebec saw some of the highest growth in temporary immigration to Canada in the five years that ended in 2021 with most of those international students and temporary foreign workers choosing to live on the outskirts of big, urban centres.

“Quebec saw some of the highest growth with the temporary resident populations growing between 209 and 1,520 per cent in rural regions such as L’Érable, Charlevoix, Témiscamingue, Le Val-Saint-François, and Abitibi,” notes that report.

“Many urban areas saw more temporary residents as well, including Montréal, Longueuil, Québec City, Gatineau, and Laval.”

In Where to? Mapping Immigrants’ and Temporary Residents’ Settlement in Canada, the Canadian think-tank notes the type of temporary immigrant that settles in each region varies based on his or her reasons for coming to Canada.

“In urban regions, increases in temporary residents probably include a mix of international students and temporary foreign workers, as well as their families, while increases in other regions probably include mostly temporary workers and their family members,” notes the report.

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In Quebec and elsewhere in the country, though, immigrants clearly showed a preference from 2016 through to the end of 2021 for housing outside the big urban cores themselves.

“The ring of census divisions surrounding Montréal showed larger increases in the immigrant population than urban centres Montréal, Laval, and Longueil,” the Conference Board found.

“A similar phenomenon played out around the Greater Toronto Area. York and Peel showed small growth in their immigrant populations of just 8.1 per cent (York) and 5.4 per cent (Peel). Regions surrounding these showed significant immigrant increases, ranging from nearly 19 per cent to over 30 per cent.

“Whether due to the pandemic or housing unavailability or unaffordability in traditional cores, these increases indicate that immigrants are settling away from urban centres.”

The Conference Board’s findings come at a time when Ottawa is undertaking a 10-year, $82-billion National Housing Strategy which has already committed $42.99 billion.

Through that housing program, Ottawa has already supported the construction of 134,707 new housing units – or committed to their construction – and helped pay or committed to paying for the repair of another 272,169 housing units.

Les Basques Region Of Quebec Saw Biggest Spike In Temporary Residents

Despite those investments in housing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has come under fire for the housing crisis in Canada, with Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre consistently taking the government to task for the paucity of affordable housing. But the prime minister has defended his track record.

“If we hadn’t got the federal government back into the business of housing, then everything would be much worse right now,” Trudeau reportedly told CBC News in September last year.

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“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, housing is terrible right now.’ And it is. Would it have been worse if we hadn’t lifted a million people out of poverty over the first few years in government? Would it have been worse if we hadn’t created a million jobs? Would it be worse if we didn’t move forward on $10-a-day child care?”

During the five years of the Conference Board’s study, many of the most popular destinations for temporary residents coming to Canada were outlying areas, including the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, the Mirabel area outside of Montreal, Prince County which includes Summerside on Prince Edward Island, Manitoba’s division four southwest of Winnipeg, and a couple of counties in the Atlantic Canadian province of New Brunswick.


Top 10 Most Popular Regions Of Canada For Temporary Residents From 2016 Through To 2021





Percentage  Growth


Les Basques 166.67
La Haute-Gaspésie 115.00
Mirabel 108.72
La Côte-de-Gaspé 72.97
Westmorland 67.61
Témiscamingue 66.67
Montcalm 64.73
Prince 61.72
Division No.  4 55.32
Queens 51.79

That boom in temporary immigration to some of these more-sparsely populated areas has been seen by many in those regions as an economic windfall.

“Immigrants help build stronger, diverse and vibrant communities which is why we are thrilled with this increase,” said Arlene Dunn, then New Brunswick’s immigration minister, last year.

Along with the shift in destinations preferred by temporary residents during those five years, there was also a shift in the demographic composition of those immigrants, a consideration which may lead governments to re-examine the kinds of services they offer in those regions.

“It’s not just more people arriving. The demographic characteristics of these regions are changing,” notes the Conference Board.

“Most regions of Prince Edward Island experienced an increase in its female immigrant population, and particularly its female temporary resident population, between 2016 and 2021.

“Identifying gendered population changes helps communities recognize changing needs within their jurisdiction, such as the increased requirement for particular services like medical or settlement services aimed at a particular sex. Prince Edward Island can expect increased demand for services aimed at women.”

Reduction In Temporary Immigration Could Lead To Economic Slowdow

Immigration Minister Marc Miller vowed earlier this year to establish immigration levels for temporary immigration to Canada with the goal of reducing temporary immigration by five per cent over the coming three years.

But some warn that a slowdown in temporary immigration could put the brakes on economic growth in Canada.

In Temporary Workers, Temporary Growth? How a Slowdown in the Recent Migration Surge Could Exacerbate Canada’s Downturn, Desjardins principal economist Marc Desormeaux foresaw that the record numbers of temporary residents could soon ease off – and he issued a warning.

“History suggests the recent surge (in the number of temporary residents in Canada) could ease significantly, exacerbating a nascent economic slowdown,” cautions Desormeaux.

“That could have significant consequences nationwide, most notably in the largest provinces.”

In their most recent fiscal plans, British Columbia and Ontario have already included contingencies for the possibility of a downturn in temporary residents to create buffers to the accompanying downturn in tax revenues to provincial coffers and a more sluggish economy should there be a drop in temporary residents.

“We must nonetheless consider downside demographic scenarios, particularly when potentially higher for longer interest rates pose risks for economic growth, borrowing costs and debt sustainability over time,” wrote Desormeaux.

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of immigration.ca featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.