Smaller cities attracting more immigrants in Canada.

A recent Ryerson University paper outlines the prospects for immigration in small and mid-sized Canadian cities.

Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver are popular destinations for immigrants coming to Canada. However, it is Canada’s small to mid-sized cities that are starting to attract more immigrants from abroad.

Over the same period between 2013 and 2019, the number of immigrants settling in smaller urban centers went up by 45 percent between 2013 and 2019, compared to nine percent in Canada’s four major cities, according to a Ryerson University paper authored by David Campbell. In the same period, the number of new immigrants increased by 40 percent in the rest of Canada’s Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs).

CMAs are major urban centers that consist of multiple municipalities around a population center. For example, the Toronto CMA consists of the city of Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, and Pickering.

The immigration rate, which is the number of immigrants per 10,000 residents, of these smaller to mid-sized urban centers is still lower than the larger cities. This may come as no surprise since the smaller urban centers started with a lower population.

Toronto has one of the highest immigration rates in Canada at 163 per 10,000 residents. Vancouver is similarly impressive at 128 per 10,000 residents. But how do small and mid-sized urban centers fair?

The immigration rate was over 100 per 10,000 residents for a total of 14 smaller urban centers. Regina and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan both had immigration rates of 193 and 178 per 10,000 residents respectively, both higher than Toronto.

The remaining 12 smaller urban centers with high immigration rates were: Halifax, Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton, Swift Current, Winkler, Steinbach, Brandon, Thompson, Brooks, High River, and Wood Buffalo. These smaller urban centers saw an influx of immigrants as a direct response to the challenges faced due to an aging population and workforce.

Many of these cities have a declining natural population. This means that there are more deaths than there are births. They depend on migration between provinces to stay competitive economically, so they have begun to attract more immigrants to continue growing.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, played a big part in reducing the number of immigrants coming into small to mid-sized urban centers. This is due to the current travel restrictions in place to curb the spread of the virus.