The workforce in Canada is growing in large part due to the rise in the number of people moving to Canada with immigrants making up almost a quarter of the labour force.

From 2006 to 2016, about two thirds of Canada's population growth was the result of migratory increase, the difference between the number of immigrants and emigrants, according to the latest figures to be released from the 2016 Census by Statistics Canada.

Canada Workforce

Similarly, the labour force was growing in large part due to increased immigration, with immigrants accounting for 23.8% of the labour force in 2016, up from 21.2% in 2006.

A breakdown of the figures show that in 2016, half of the workforce in Toronto were immigrants while Vancouver had the second highest proportion of immigrants in its labour force at 43.2%, followed by Calgary at 32.5%.

The report says that the contribution of immigrants to the Canadian labour market is an important component of strategies to offset the impact of population aging, which might otherwise lead to a shrinking pool of workers and labour shortages. Many immigrants are admitted into Canada based on their skills and education.

Regional trends in employment rates reflect population and migration changes. In May 2016 some 17.2 million people were employed in Canada. The employment rate was 60.2%, down from 62.6% in May 2006.

Employment rates varied significantly across Canada in 2016, reflecting a number of factors, including growth in certain industries such as oil, the age structure of provinces and territories, and migration patterns over the past decade.

Employment rates in 2016 were above the national average on the Prairies, led by Alberta at 65.4%, and followed by Saskatchewan at 63.5% and Manitoba at 61.7%. This is consistent with above-average migration growth in these provinces, with people moving there because of work prospects. However, in each of these provinces, the employment rate was lower than in 2006, partly due to the economic impact of lower oil prices.

The lowest employment rates were in Newfoundland and Labrador at 49.5% and Nunavut at 53.6%. These two regions also had the lowest rates in 2006.

In May 2016, Yukon reported the highest employment rate in Canada at 68.5%, followed by the Northwest Territories at 66.2%. Both territories have young and growing populations, and both had some of the highest proportions of workers in 2016 who were living in another province or territory five years earlier, indicating that many people are drawn to these areas specifically for work.

Among census metropolitan areas (CMAs) those on the Prairies generally had above average employment rates. Regina had the highest rate at 66.8%, followed by Saskatoon and Calgary both at 66.5%. The lowest employment rates were in Saguenay at 54.5%, Trois-Rivières at 55.1%, Windsor at 55.3% and Peterborough at 55.3%.

Some of the difference between the three highest and three lowest CMAs was accounted for by their age distributions; those with the lowest employment rates had an older population base. The difference in rates was also related to the general economic strength in the resource based provinces, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, and some weakness within the historically manufacturing based provinces of Ontario and Quebec.