Canada: Myths about Immigration

Written by Harold McNeill on July 23rd, 2017. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Immigration Chart 4

Chart (2011): Statistics Canada tends to
Perpetuate Myths about Immigration

One of the many strengths of Canada is in the diversity of its ethnocultural mix and the fact a majority of Canadians take pride in that mix.  Because we have never expanded our economy much beyond being the “drawers of water and hewers of wood” (1) and because our birth rate of the past fifty years has steadily decreased (more below), Canada still needs a steady intake of immigrants and foreign workers to help keep our country moving forward.

This gives rise to the question of why Statistics Canada plays games with the immigration numbers and how much influence do governments of the day have in shaping graphs, reports, and summaries towards political ends? The above chart is but one of many examples suggesting the influence is strong.

Perhaps the canceling of the Census Long Form in 2010, an action that gained considerable public attention, was just a smokescreen to cover the deeper manipulation of census numbers and summaries in a manner better suited to ideological purposes of the day. Going back to 2006 brings forth many more changes that skewed the manner in which the number of immigrants was counted.  

Creating a Political Advantage

There are plenty of memes and blog/mainstream media articles suggesting Canada is being overrun with Immigrants and Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW’s). Since 911, Muslims are the favoured targets. These groups also often suggest immigrants are eligible for all manner of support services for which other Canadians are not eligible. Why do myths like this develop?

A few weeks back I wrote a post (Canada: Who is an Immigrant) on the subject and have since reviewed a number of Statistics Canada charts including the one above which was included in the original linked post.

Take a quick glance at this chart. The blue bars give the impression the number of foreign born residents in Canada is increasing rapidly, from less than 1% in 1871 to over 20% beginning in 2011. That was my first impression, but that impression was wrong. Charts like this are designed to mislead. Now, check the legend at the bottom.  The Blue Bars actually represent the number of ‘foreign-born’ residents, the Red Line, the percentage. But even that number (20%) is grossly inflated.

In the first ten years (the 1871 bar), the percentage was around 18%, whereas in 2011 it was just over 20%.  That’s not much of a change over the past 150 years, is it?  However, the chart is designed in a way that leads to the opposite impression as the blue bars rise rapidly in height.

The highest rate of immigration into Canada came during the first fifty years of the last century (1901 – 1951).  Immigration then tapered off during World War II and has only slowly risen (in percentage terms) from the 1960’s to the present day. But that is not the only misleading bit of information in the chart.

Look again at the 20% figure for 2011. In that year, our population was roughly 34,000,000. The chart claims the number of immigrants to be 6,800,000 (20% of 34 million).  However, we only admit 250,000 immigrants each year, a fairly steady number even in recent decades. In the chart and between 2001 and 2011, the total would only be 2.5 million (10 x 250 thousand) if none of those admitted in that ten year period became naturalized Canadians.  You may think the 6.8 million number is simply cumulative over several decades, but that is not the case. Why? Because Canada has the highest rate of naturalization in the world, an astonishing 92%.

That percentage (92%) suggests immigrates admitted to Canada intend to stay, so as soon as possible after the 1460 day waiting period, most apply and with few exceptions, successfully become naturalized Canadians.  Once the process is complete these immigrants become full-fledged Canadians just as if they were born here. But, this is not always the case. For some reason (one could make a reasonable guess) Stats Canada changed the definition:

Immigrant: The definition of immigrant used in this profile varies depending on the data source. In the section using Census of Population data, immigrants are defined as persons who, at the time of the 2006 Census, either held or had once held landed immigrant status, regardless of whether they were currently Canadian citizens.”

That was a major change in the counting method.  In addition, any child born in Canada automatically obtains Canadian citizenship through the principle of jus soli. It matters not where your parents are from, if you were born here, you automatically become a Canadian citizen. However, Stats Can seems not to recognize the principle when counting people as immigrants as they now count the children of immigrants as being immigrants even though they born in Canada.

This skews the figures in a manner that suggests the number of immigrants is rapidly increasing when in fact it is not. The Blue Bars on that chart should be about 1/3 the size they are.  Look at it this way, if, during each ten year period, 92% of immigrants arriving become citizens within that ten year period, the number of immigrants will rise so slowly as to be almost negligible. Using the 2011 census, that means over 30 million of our population is, in fact, Canadian, either naturalized or born here.  Someone is playing games with these charts and others posted by Statistics Canada.

As an example of how this is played out in the media read this January 2017, CTV News Report:  Nearly half of Canadians will be immigrants, children of immigrants by 2036: Stats Can.

There are so many inaccuracies in this CTV Report, it would take a full post just to begin.  Why do the numbers of immigrants become such an issue?  From the very beginning, save for the Indian population who lived here for thousands of years, our entire country was populated by immigrants from around the world. That trend continues to the present day and keeps our moving forward.  What would happen if we simply cut off all immigration?

A Static Population

Our current birth rate runs at about 370,000 per year, the death rate, about 100,000 less at 270,000. Clearly, our country would struggle to expand our economy (work force) given we are a rich country and many can retire at a relatively young age. We would have a difficult time expanding our economy if we relied only upon expanding our work force by birth alone. We need immigration and a strong Foreign Worker Program (FTW) to keep things humming.

We could st0p immigration and move to a full TFW program to meet our needs, but that would limit our ability to bring in highly skilled and professional workers. Businesses that employ only unskilled workers would likely applaud an expanded TWF program as they could get workers at ten cents on the dollar in many areas in which naturalized or born in Canada citizens deign to work.

A number of wealthy nations, including the United States, do that and, as well, depend upon a large force of illegal workers as illegals have no rights and as such are often employed in conditions that are nothing short of slave labour. Move all the TFW’s and illegal workers out in many countries and a number of industries, including agricultural, fast food, and tourist support services would collapse.

Canada could easily double our intake of immigrants if we made a concerted effort to create more manufacturing and high-tech industry at home rather than relying upon other nations to fulfill those needs. We certainly have the all the natural resources we need.

Over the past 150 years, and with the exception of our Aboriginal community,  immigration has never hurt Canada. It was and continues to be, the only means by which our country has progressed in the modern world. Our deep cultural mix continues to strengthen our country, not weaken it. Within the mix of cultures that have arrived in Canada over the past 75 years, no group has come close, or will come close to holding a majority.

Neither does the intake of immigrants and TFW’s create a drain on our social services. Reputable studies (those with no particular ideological purpose in mind) conclude immigrants to Canada quickly reach a point of stability. That is, they do not take more out than they add in benefits, and over a period of fewer than ten years become strong contributors to the GDP. Perhaps I will one day sit down and explore the trend.


(1) For example, Canada has never invested much in developing oil refining plants because it is expensive and companies can make more money exporting raw material such as that from the oil sands.

Canada’s main exports are raw materials, including logs, minerals, food (grains, cattle, fish), oil and gas.   Canada’s main imports are machinery and equipment, vehicles and parts, crude oil (regional), chemicals, electricity, durable consumer goods.

(2)  It is easy to find other information in Stats Can reports that contradict the numbers indicated in the lead chart.  For instance, the following from a 2008 report:

“Record numbers of new immigrants arrived in Canada during the 1990s. In 2001, about 1.8 million people living in Canada were immigrants who had arrived during the previous ten years”  (The opening sentence)

This clearly contradicts the numbers suggested in the lead chart as the numbers of immigrants entering Canada between 1991 – 2011 remained steady at around 250,000 per year. This suggests changes to the counting methods in 2006 caused the numbers to be inflated.


Has the ethnocultural mix of Canada changed over the past fifty years?  Read the second part of Statistics Canada summary that was published in 2008.  There are a number of erroneous statements contained in this summary that may have more to do with Federal Government interests than actual facts.

Some facts about the demographic and ethnocultural composition of the population.


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  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]