Canada’s population grew at the fastest rate for the first quarter since 1990 thanks to continued immigration.

The number of people living in Canada rose by 0.3 per cent, or 127,978, to 38.7 million in the first three months of 2022, according to Statistics Canada estimates released Wednesday in Ottawa. The report showed accelerating gains following a slow-growth period in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The majority of the gains came from international migration, which remains driver of population and labor growth in Canada. The country welcomed 113,699 immigrants in the first quarter, the highest number in any first quarter since quarterly data became available in 1946.

Canada’s biggest province, Ontario, also reached a milestone, with its population surpassing 15 million for the first time.

With an aging workforce and a record number of job vacancies, robust immigration will be “even more critical to the labor market,” the statistics agency said. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has set an ambitious plan to bring in more than 1.3 million newcomers over the next three years to support the country’s post-pandemic growth. Last year, Canada welcomed more than 405,000 new residents, the largest single-year increase in its history.

Here’s more new data on Canada’s immigration and labor supply from Statistics Canada:

  • In the 2010s, immigrant workers accounted for 84 per cent of the growth in the total labor force and 55 per cent of the growth in the high- and medium-skilled jobs. They also offset a decline in lower-skilled jobs among Canada-born workers
  • Since 2010, the shares of new and recent immigrants grew the fastest in transportation and warehousing, professional services, and accommodation and food services
  • In 2021, recent immigrants, who were in Canada 10 years or shorter, made up 8 per cent of the total employed labor force
  • Canada is increasingly reliant on temporary foreign workers to fill labor gaps, with the number increasing to 777,000 in 2021 from 111,000 in 2000
  • About a quarter of temporary foreign workers who arrived in Canada in the late 2000s and early 2010s became permanent residents within five years after obtaining their first work permit
  • Lower-skilled temporary foreign workers tended to have higher rates of transition to permanent residency as compared with their higher-skilled counterparts
  • A third of international students who arrived in the late 2000s and early 2010s became permanent residents within 10 years