New research suggests more immigrants to Canada have chosen to leave in recent years, a threat to a country that relies on immigration to drive population and economic growth.
The rate of immigrants leaving the country, or onward migration, has been steadily increasing since the 1980s and is rising among recent cohorts, suggesting newcomers “may not be seeing the benefits of moving to Canada,” according to a study on immigrant retention by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and the Conference Board of Canada.
The report, published Tuesday, underscored the risks of Canada failing to meet expectations of newcomers, who are facing worsening housing affordability, a strained health-care system and underemployment, among other issues.
It also highlighted how disillusionment among immigrants can slow down progress even in a country that consistently sets fresh records for population gains.
“It’s a reflection on our broader society and more intractable failings that we have. If immigrants are saying ‘no, thanks’ and moving on, that’s a real existential threat to Canada’s prosperity,” Daniel Bernhard, chief executive officer of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a pro-immigration advocacy group, said in an interview.
“We need to wake up and recognize that if we don’t deliver, people will leave. And if they leave, we’re in trouble.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has been using immigration to rapidly add more workers to stave off economic decline from an aging populace.
But record population growth in recent years has led to growing criticism that its policies have exacerbated existing housing shortages and added more pressure on infrastructure and services like health care.