Exploring Citizenship and Permanent Resident Data on the ICC’s Immigration Dashboard


Immigration is vital to Canada’s economy, but also to its cultural dynamism. 90 percent of labour force growth is attributed to immigration, as is 75 percent of population growth. Canada has welcomed a record high of 431,645 new permanent residents in 2022, 16% higher than in 2021. But the federal government has indicated that it will increase immigration levels even further, admitting 1.45 million new immigrants between 2023-2025.

The ICC launched a dashboard in collaboration with Andrew Griffith, tracking the number of new citizens and permanent residents admitted to Canada. After facing public backlash on application backlogs, IRCC has managed to surface through and meet its target for the year. Here is the overall breakdown of permanent resident numbers in 2022:

As seen from the dashboard, the number of permanent residents admitted between December 2021 – November 2022 is 22.7 percent higher than the previous year. The dashboard below shows how the admission varies from month to month in each immigration stream:

Reviewing the dashboard on permanent resident admission categories in 2022, the dashboard shows how admission numbers vary considerably over time. For example, the Economic-Federal category (line in green) represented most admissions processed in early 2022, but monthly figures for this category decreased significantly throughout the year. The number of permanent residents admitted through the Economic-Federal category fell from almost 19,000 permanent residents in January 2022 to roughly 8,400 in November 2022.

For new citizens, the dashboard shows similar variations in monthly processing. The drastic fall in the number of new Canadian citizens at the beginning of the pandemic and the unpredictable variation of the trendline since that point reveal IRCC’s struggles in processing citizenship applications while navigating through a massive application backlog. Although the first Covid-19 case announcement was on 25 January 2020, the trends show that the number of new citizens remained relatively steady, with 25,002 new citizens approved in January and 27,094 in February. The trendline dipped in March 2020 as IRCC shut most of its services at the onset of the pandemic. Canada admitted 9,786 new citizens in March 2020 before seeing a collapse in April 2020, when they accepted only 22 citizens.

In 2020, Canada admitted only 110,901 new citizens, a 56 percent drop from 2019 when Canada welcomed 250,513 new citizens. In September 2020, IRCC announced a gradual resumption of in-person services and there was a sudden uptick in the trend, admitting 13,936 new Canadians. The trendline of the following months reveals the outcome of the challenges IRCC was facing as the citizenship approval rates continued to vary substantially. IRCC was in the centre of a lot of negative limelight for leaving almost 85,000 potential new Canadians in limbo and experts continue to question and want more transparency on the department’s processes.

Despite all the negative media coverage about IRCC’s lack of resources and ability to manage the backlog, the number of new citizens eventually recovered. Between December 2021- November 2022, Canada gained 368,911 new citizens, a 214.5 percent increase from the 262,803 Canadian citizens approved in the previous year.

While the record number of permanent resident admissions and the significant number of new citizens in the last year is certainly noteworthy, the data raises important questions about the government’s goal of admitting 1.45 million immigrants by 2025. Given the variation in processing from one month to the next, will IRCC be able to reach this goal?  Considering the fact that 1.09 million applications are still in the backlog, does IRCC have the capacity, whether through technology or through human labour, to get through the accumulated applications while also taking on a larger volume in the future? Is the goal to bring processing times back to pre-pandemic levels, which were already quite slow, or is it to revamp the entire system with the use of AI, changing eligibility requirements to create a more streamlined process of admitting newcomers in Canada?  

The Institute for Canadian Citizenship works to unlock Canada for newcomers through programs like Canoo and through original research initiatives and collaborations, such as the immigration dashboard. Each month, the ICC will be monitoring trends in new citizenship and permanent resident admissions and sharing our analysis with the public. Are you following the national conversation on immigration? Let us know what you think about the 2023-2025 Immigration plan or share your thoughts about the immigration dashboard.

You can learn more about the ICC here. Join the conversation and be part of building a more inclusive Canada.

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