Indicators and targets: Attracting and retaining global talent

 Jobs and innovation: Tracking progress and results


  • Welcome 340,000 new permanent residents annually by 2020

Immigration supports a strong Canadian economy by offsetting labour force decline, filling skills gaps and facilitating access to top talent for Canadian businesses. Canada competes with other countries to attract the best and brightest foreign talent, who are often internationally mobile (OECD, 2008). Skilled foreign workers help Canadian companies innovate and grow, creating jobs and wealth for all Canadians, while foreign researchers make important contributions to Canada's fundamental science and research.

Figure 4.1: Canada's immigration levels, actual and planned

Text version
Actual Levels
Year Economic Class Other Immigration Class Total Immigration Level
2010 186,968 93,762 280,730
2011 156,112 92,620 248,732
2012 160,786 97,023 257,809
2013 148,252 110,787 259,039
2014 165,188 95,094 260,282
2015 170,390 101,443 271,833
2016 156,030 140,349 296,379
2017 159,262 127,217 286,479
Planned Levels
Year Economic Class Other Immigration Class Total Immigration Level
2018 177,500 132,500 310,000
2019 191,600 138,400 330,000
2020 195,800 144,200 340,000


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. 2018 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration

Canada has welcomed an increasing number of immigrants over the past decade, many under the economic class (Figure 4.1). Immigrants comprise about 22% of Canada's population (Statistics Canada, 2017), held 37% of all ICT jobs in 2017 (ICTC, 2017) and made up 28% of Canada's skilled workforce in 2018 (see Figure 4.2). The employment rate for core working age immigrants (25-54 years) rose to 78.9% in 2017, the highest rate recorded since the 2006 launch of the Labour Force Survey immigrant series (Statistics Canada, 2018). In addition to workers, Canada competes to attract foreign research talent. Fundamental science and research is an essential component of innovation and today's students are tomorrow's workers. Canada had the 5th most international PhD students in STEM fields in 2015 and the 6th most international students overall in the OECD (OECD, 2017). 

In order to provide organizations a faster and more predictable route to bring top talent and new skills from around the world to Canada, the Government introduced the Global Skills Strategy. The strategy includes faster processing times for highly skilled workers and selective work permit exemptions for short-term work or research. Under the Global Talent Stream pilot, close to 4,500 employer applications have been approved for high-skilled immigrants as of March 2019. Successful applicants have committed to creating over 48,000 jobs and close to 12,500 paid co-op positions. Building on the success of the pilot, Budget 2019 invested $35.2 million over five years, beginning in 2019–20, with $7.4 million per year ongoing to make the Global Talent Stream a permanent program.

Figure 4.2: Immigrant share of skilled workforce, ages 25-54, by sex

Text version
Year Sex Born in Canada Landed immigrants
2014 Both sexes 72.4% 25.1%
2014 Female 73.0% 24.7%
2014 Male 71.8% 25.4%
2015 Both sexes 72.1% 25.6%
2015 Female 72.9% 25.1%
2015 Male 71.2% 26.1%
2016 Both sexes 70.6% 27.0%
2016 Female 71.3% 26.4%
2016 Male 69.9% 27.6%
2017 Both sexes 70.0% 27.5%
2017 Female 70.8% 26.9%
2017 Male 69.2% 28.1%
2018 Both sexes 68.8% 28.3%
2018 Female 69.8% 27.6%
2018 Male 67.8% 29.0%


  1. Landed immigrants refer to people who are, or have been, landed immigrants in Canada. A landed immigrant is a person who has been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Non-permanent residents (persons from another country who live in Canada and have a work or study permit, or are claiming refugee status, as well as family members living here with them) are not landed immigrants.
  2. Skilled workers are defined as individuals who have completed a certificate (including a trade certificate) or diploma from an educational institution beyond the secondary level or attained at least a university bachelor's degree.


Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0087-01.