Canada added more than 431,000 new permanent residents last year, the largest annual increase in its history, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seeks to ease the country's labor shortages.

The new admissions met the 2022 target set by Trudeau's government and exceeded the prior year's record of about 401,000 newcomers, according to a release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on Tuesday.  

The Canadian government has consistently raised its annual immigration goals in recent years, with the latest plan targeting 465,000 new permanent residents this year and half a million in 2025. The policies have also propelled population growth to a fresh record and may be contributing to a decline in the country's median age.

Immigration accounts for nearly all of Canada's labor-force growth and about 75 per cent of the nation's population growth. During the 2021 Census, nearly one in four people counted were — or had been — a landed immigrant or permanent resident in Canada, the largest proportion among Group of Seven economies.

By 2036, immigrants will represent almost a third of Canada's population, compared with about 21 per cent in 2011.

Canada's unemployment rate in November was 5.1 per cent, hovering near the record low of 4.9 per cent that was set in June and July.