Economic Context and Implications
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During most of its history Canada has received large numbers of immigrants, and a policy of encouraging immigration has been an important element of the country’s growth strategy. The foreign-born share of the population reached 18.4 per cent in 2001 (up from 14.7 per cent 50 years earlier) and is higher than in nearly all other OECD countries. Canada traditionally receives mainly permanent immigrants: on average in 2000-02, 235 000 of them were admitted each year, about ¾ per cent of the population. There is also some temporary immigration, but the net flow is relatively small. Emigration, directed mainly to the United States, has risen in the 1990s, but – at about 0.2 per cent of the population – remains much smaller than immigration (Figure 21). Thus, net migration is positive, as it has been almost continuously during the past century, and now represents about 70 per cent of annual population increase, a proportion that is set to rise further, assuming unchanged fertility rates.