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For the seventh consecutive year Canada has sustained the highest level of immigration in the country’s history, according to preliminary 2012 data released today by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Canada welcomed 257,515 permanent residents in 2012, well within the government’s planning range of 240,000 to 265,000 new permanent residents for the year. Each year since 2006, Canada has admitted an average of about a quarter of a million immigrants. ‘Canada has been welcoming not only the highest sustained level of immigrants in Canadian history, we also have, on a per-capita basis, among the highest immigration rates in the world,’ said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. ‘Immigration is a key part of the government’s plan to grow our economy, spur job creation, and ensure long term prosperity for all Canadians,’ he added.

Over the seven years from 2006 to 2012, Canada averaged approximately 30,250 more admissions per year than in the decade previous, from 1996 to 2005. ‘The government is continuing to move toward a modern and effective immigration system that attracts the skilled immigrants that Canada’s economy requires. This new fast and flexible system will respond more effectively to Canada’s labour market needs, support family reunification, and provide protection to genuine refugees,’ explained Kenney.

The data also showed that a record number of international students arrived in Canada in 2012, the first time in Canadian history that Canada has welcomed over 100,000 international students and an increase of 60% from 2004. ‘Attracting and retaining the best and brightest immigrants from around the world is part of the government’s commitment to grow Canada’s economy and ensure long term prosperity. The steady growth in numbers confirms that Canada remains a destination of choice for international students because of the remarkable educational opportunities that exist in our world class institutions,’ said Kenney.
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According to a report by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), international students contribute more than $8 billion every year to the Canadian economy. In addition to significant economic benefits, international students also enrich Canadian society with their ideas and different perspectives.

‘Canada’s universities are pleased to see increasing numbers of international students attracted by our reputation for excellence in education. In addition to making a significant contribution to our economy, international students bring new perspectives and cultures to our campuses, enriching the learning experience of all students,’ said Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

Officials pointed out that recently proposed changes to the International Student Programme would streamline work permit access to international students attending designated institutions, and provide certain study permit holders with the authority to work part time off campus. The proposed changes would also better protect international students as provinces and territories designate the institutions qualified to receive them and Citizenship and Immigration Canada eliminates abuse of the program by ensuring program participants are genuine students.

Kenney said that these changes would safeguard the world class reputation of Canada’s post secondary education system, as it strives to become ever more competitive in the global search for talent. ‘Canada competes globally for the best and brightest minds, so we are continually working to make studying in Canada an attractive choice. Through our proposed improvements to the International Student Programme, we will further improve Canada’s already strong reputation ,’ he said.