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.


(Visited 778 times, 1 visits today)

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment



  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold