Immigration in Canada experienced a dramatic drop in 2020, which was felt across the country. However, early signs indicate most provinces are already ahead of schedule to administer more immigrants and recover by the end of the year.

Canada had started strong in 2020. However, this was before the coronavirus pandemic struck, causing numerous immigration disruptions such as border closure which took effect early March. Resultantly, Canada only managed to welcome approximately 184000 new immigrants in 2020, which was way below the 341000 mark it hoped to achieve. In fact, this was the lowest number of immigrants ever recorded in the country since 1998. While the decline was felt in each province and region, immigrant settlement pattern remained consistent and totally unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic crisis. Here is how the immigrants were distributed through the country in 2020.


Ontario is Canada’s largest province and the most popular immigration destination. The number of immigrants landing in the province was slashed by half to about 83000 in 2020. However, its share of immigrants was unaffected as it registered about 45 percent of Canada’s newcomers.

British Columbia

Like all other years, British Columbia remained the second-largest destination for immigrants in 2020. It recorded a little under 30000 newcomers, which translates to 15 percent of the county’s immigrants.


Quebec came in third ahead of Alberta by welcoming over 25000 immigrants last year. It saw a 14 percent increase in its share compared to 2019’s 12 percent. This is because Quebec is open to more refugee class and family immigrants compared to most other provinces. Besides, Quebec did not experience a significant fall in the number of immigrants coming in under certain categories. For instance, Quebec’s sponsored spouses and partners category was not as badly affected as the skilled workers category, whose decline was experienced across the country.


There was a slight fall in Alberta’s share of immigrants as it welcomed about 12.4 percent immigrants compared to 13 percent in 2019.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Four Provinces

Manitoba and Saskatchewan also welcomed fewer immigrants than usual. Manitoba’s share reduced from 5.5 percent immigrants recorded in 2019 to 4.6 in 2020. Similarly, Saskatchewan saw a decline in its share from 4.6 to 4 percent. Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces, including New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Labrador, and Nova Scotia, also saw a slight decline from 5.2 percent in 2019 to 4.7 last year.

Moving Forward: Which provinces are set to Recover their Immigration Levels in 20221 and How?

According to IRCC’s announcement in October last year, Canada aimed to welcome 401 000 immigrants in 2021. The immigration department took significant steps towards achieving this goal by holding a mega Express Entry draw on February 13, 2021. It also invited 27332 temporary residents to apply for permanent residence. All these newcomers came in under the Canadian Express Class (CEC) and according to IRRC, approximately 90 percent of them currently already reside in the country.

According to Canada’s immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, about 26000 newcomers landed in the country in January. This is approximately 10 percent above the immigrants welcomed into the country same time last year. He also announced that the country is percent ahead of plans considering the pace it requires its 401000 marks in 2021. But will this recovery be experienced across the country?

Canada welcomes its skilled workers through Express Entry. Based on the most recent Express Entry annual report, IRRC has it that about 92 percent of the Express Entry newcomers settle in BC, Alberta, and Ontario.

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