Why More Immigrants Are Leaving Canada: Addressing Immigration Challenges

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Canada has long been a magnet for immigrants in search of a better life. It’s a land of opportunities, diversity, and incredible landscapes. People from all corners of the globe have flocked to the Great White North with dreams of prosperity. However, a recent study on immigrant retention reveals a surprising trend – more immigrants are leaving Canada than ever before.

video credit: CTV News

Reverse migration, as it’s called, is not a novel concept. But in the past 5–6 years, this trend has gained exponential momentum. The Canadian dream doesn’t seem to be panning out for some newcomers, leading them to return to their home countries or seek better prospects elsewhere. In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind this surge in immigrants leaving Canada and explore potential solutions to increase retention.

What is causing immigrants to leave Canada?

Canada has always had a dynamic immigrant population. These newcomers have played a crucial role in filling labor gaps in vital sectors like healthcare, construction, and transportation. Yet, according to a recent study by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, immigrants are now leaving Canada at a rate 31% higher than the historical average.

In 2019 alone, a staggering 67,000 departures were documented. This begs the question: why are immigrants choosing to leave? The study points to several key factors:

  1. Housing Crunch: Canada is grappling with a housing crisis, with skyrocketing prices and limited availability. Immigrants, like everyone else, face the challenge of finding affordable and suitable housing.
  2. Unaffordability: The rising cost of living, coupled with heavy taxes, can make it challenging for newcomers to achieve the financial security they envisioned.
  3. Healthcare Challenges: Canada’s healthcare system is highly regarded but not without its shortcomings. Lengthy wait times for specialist care and access to certain treatments can be frustrating for immigrants seeking medical assistance.
  4. Foreign Credential Recognition: Highly skilled immigrants who were successful professionals in their home countries often face hurdles when it comes to having their credentials recognized in Canada. This can lead to them working in jobs unrelated to their expertise.
  5. Inflation: Even after overcoming credential recognition challenges, the growing inflation rate makes it difficult for professionals to save substantially, eroding the financial incentive of moving to Canada.
  6. Lack of Canadian Experience: Employers in Canada often prefer candidates with Canadian work experience, making it difficult for newcomers, especially in unregulated professions, to land their first job.

What could be done to increase retention?

Addressing this issue requires a multi-faceted approach. The study recommends that various levels of government collaborate to monitor immigrant onward migration rates. Furthermore, they should invest in settlement services and programs that streamline the immigration process. This includes assisting employers in hiring and retaining immigrant workers and making infrastructure improvements to enhance communities in general.

The report suggests, “Initiatives that foster a sense of belonging and attachment to Canada, together with policies that ensure immigrants and their families have opportunities for personal and career growth, could influence more immigrants to decide to stay.”

Immigration Minister Marc Miller also acknowledges the challenges and emphasizes the need for better coordination in terms of housing, healthcare, and infrastructure as a way to enhance the immigrant experience.

In Conclusion

Canada has always prided itself on being a welcoming and diverse nation, and its immigration system reflects that. However, the rising number of immigrants leaving Canada is a wake-up call. Addressing the issues of housing, affordability, healthcare, and foreign credential recognition is essential to retaining newcomers who contribute significantly to the Canadian economy and society.

The Canadian dream is still attainable, but it requires a collective effort to ensure that immigrants not only arrive in Canada but stay and thrive. The nation’s ability to meet its immigration goals hinges on its ability to retain the talent and diversity that newcomers bring.


1. Why are immigrants leaving Canada?

Immigrants are leaving Canada due to various factors, including a housing crisis, unaffordability, healthcare challenges, issues with foreign credential recognition, inflation, and a lack of Canadian work experience.

2. What is reverse migration?

Reverse migration refers to immigrants leaving the country they initially moved to for better opportunities and returning to their home country or seeking prospects in another nation.

3. How does unaffordability affect immigrants in Canada?

Unaffordability in Canada, driven by a high cost of living and taxes, can make it difficult for immigrants to achieve the financial security they hoped for, affecting their decision to stay.

4. What is the role of foreign credential recognition in immigrant retention?

Recognition of foreign credentials is crucial for highly skilled immigrants. Facing barriers in this area can lead to them working in jobs unrelated to their expertise and subsequently leaving Canada.

5. How can Canada increase immigrant retention?

Canada can increase immigrant retention by addressing issues like housing, affordability, healthcare, and foreign credential recognition. Investing in settlement services and programs that promote a sense of belonging is also essential.

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