We don’t talk enough about Canadian immigration even though it is one of the largest melting pots by ratio. In 2018 alone, Canada admitted 321,065 immigrants. And, for the many migrant workers living in the Great White North, we also have big news!
To celebrate, let’s take a look at immigration in Canada and how it impacts remittances worldwide. But first, a bit of Canadian history.
A (Very) Brief History of Canada
Canada was originally populated by many indigenous peoples such as the Métis, the Inuit and the First Nations. Each had their own established communities and settlements, as well as cultures and traditions comprising thousands of years, with agricultural systems and trading routes.
It is possible that the area began to receive European explorers around 1000 AD – these explorers would have been Norsemen, such as Leif Erikson. Then, in the 15th century, English explorations began with the Italian navigator John Cabot (under King Henry VII). From there, more European settlements began to be founded, such as St. John’s (Newfoundland), Tadoussac and Port Royal (both in the Quebec region).
The foundation of British North America came with the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which not only established the Province of Quebec and incorporated additional territories, but also regulated rights of the First Nations (many of the indigenous peoples that originally inhabited the territory). After the Wars of American Independence and of 1812 – between the United States and the United Kingdom – Canada received a high influx of immigrants, among these Loyalists from the US.
Between several acts introduced, treaties signed between the United States and Britain, and further territorial expansions, Canada as we know it today slowly took shape. Currently, the country is a standard for government transparency, civil liberties, human development and cultural diversity (more on that later). Also, Canada’s economy is highly developed – with the Canadian dollar as its currency, the GDP of Canada is currently the tenth largest of the world.
Migration to Canada
Out of all members of the G8 (now G7), a council made up of the world’s most industrialized nations, the Great White North has the highest proportion of immigrants. We’re talking about 7.5 million migrants, representing 20% of the overall population.
As of today, the largest expat communities in Canada are Indian (668,565 residents) and Chinese (649,260), with most immigrants coming from Asia (Middle East inclusive). Hence, it’s not surprising that Chinese languages, Tagalog, Spanish and Punjabi are the most widely spoken after the official languages, English and French.
Most immigrants in Canada live within the urban areas of Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta, with the biggest concentrations found in Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver.
According to the last census, between British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia, immigrants own 1,825,580 properties, which would account for around 23% of the migrant population. However, this number does include immigrants who own multiple houses.
That being said, is it possible for immigrants to purchase homes?
Well, their median income is of CA$55,700, while refugees who have been in the country for five years have a median income of CA$21,700. Although less than half, this number had seen a 29% increase by 2016.
Canada’s Remittances and their Impact
According to the World Bank, the top destinations for remittances sent from Canada in 2018 were China (US$4.144 billion), India (US$2.877 billion), Philippines (US$2.37 billion), France (US$1.297 billion), Vietnam (US$953 million), and Lebanon (US$853 million).
However, a 2017 Canadian study focusing on residents born in Official Development Assistance-eligible countries (ODA), found that the Filipino community had made the most money transfers to friends and family that year.
In general ODA terms, the majority of remittances in Canada were made by those born in Southeast Asia and Oceania (57%) followed by Eastern Asia (11%).
The study also found 59% of remitters sent money abroad to pay for living expenses like food and housing, while 43% sent money to pay for medical expenses. The most popular sending method among respondents was in-person at a money transfer store.
In essence, it’s no surprise that many people like moving to Canada – back in the 19th century or today. The Great White North might be cold, but it sure is welcoming.
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