Just the Facts
Non-permanent residents form an integral part of Statistics Canada’s robust demographic estimates

Release date: September 15, 2023

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Statistics Canada’s census and demographic estimates programs, which account for non-permanent residents (NPRs) in Canada, are kept up to date to reflect current societal trends and adapt to changes to policy and programs, such as those for immigration and temporary residents. As is the case with every census cycle, the work to update the 2021 Census counts to account for those who may have been missed or overcounted and subsequently reflect them in the population estimates began in 2022. New data on the population of Canada, including more details on NPRs in Canada, will be released on September 27, 2023.

It all begins with Census of Population counts and coverage studies

Every five years, Statistics Canada releases population counts based on the Census of Population. At the same time, benchmarked by census counts and the results of coverage studies, Statistics Canada uses administrative records to estimate components of population growth (births, deaths, and international and interprovincial migrants) to produce quarterly and annual demographic estimates.

NPRs have been included in the census since 1991. All our socioeconomic indicators, including per capita GDP, use demographic estimates that include NPRs.

The figure below summarizes the key components of the Demographic Estimates Program and how they help to meet some of Statistics Canada’s legislative requirements and other statistical needs.

Figure 1 A history of demographic estimates, from the Census of Population to socioeconomic indicators

Description for Figure 1

This diagram presents the process Statistics Canada uses to produce demographic estimates and the primary uses of these estimates. It is divided into three sections.

First, census counts are produced and published. Coverage studies are then conducted to estimate the number of people who were either missed or counted more than once. Together, the published census counts and results of the coverage studies form the base population for population estimates.

Next, the components that can affect population size, such as births and deaths, are estimated using administrative data. These are referred to as components of population growth. The published census counts, the results of the coverage studies, and the components of population growth are used to calculate demographic estimates. These estimates are used for the application of the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Fair Representation Act.

Finally, demographic estimates are used by other Statistics Canada programs. They are a key input into population projections, they are used by Statistics Canada social surveys, including the Labour Force Survey, to ensure that the data produced are representative of the entire Canadian population, and they are used as denominators for various socioeconomic indicators, such as life expectancy, crime rates and gross domestic product per capita.

This process involves close collaboration between various partners, including provincial and territorial statistical focal points, Statistics Canada advisory committees, and other federal partners.

A closer look at NPRs

A non-permanent resident is a person from another country with a usual place of residence in Canada who has a work or study permit or who has claimed refugee status (asylum claimant). Although Statistics Canada has processes in place to enumerate the entire population and conducts follow-up activities, NPRs are more difficult to reach and sometimes miss the opportunity to complete their census questionnaire. This challenge is not unique to the Canadian census.

In order to account for these challenges, after each census, Statistics Canada conducts coverage studies to estimate the number of people who were not enumerated in the census but should have been (undercoverage) and the number of people enumerated more than once (overcoverage). These comprehensive studies take a sample of the population more likely to be missed or enumerated more than once, using interviews and administrative records, and determine the level of adjustment needed, including adjustments for NPRs. The processes and methodology used to adjust census counts in order to derive populations estimates involve comprehensive consultations with the provinces and territories, as billions of dollars worth of annual fiscal transfers are based on high-quality population estimates.

Quarterly and annual demographic estimates provide a robust portrait of Canada’s entire population

The adjusted census counts are the basis of the Demographic Estimates Program (DEP), which provides ongoing information on population growth or decline. Population changes do not end with each census cycle, so components of demographic growth such as births, deaths, and international and interprovincial migrants are estimated using administrative data.

The quarterly and annual population estimates include estimates of NPRs. Statistics Canada uses a validated, transparent mechanism to estimate the number of NPRs, a mechanism established in collaboration with key partners, including Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the provincial and territorial statistical focal points.

Statistics Canada calculates the number of NPRs using data on temporary resident permits and refugee claims issued and collected by IRCC. The method goes beyond an aggregate calculation of the difference between the number of applications and approvals. Statistics Canada processes the raw data to accurately count individuals with more than one temporary resident permit, those who obtain a permanent residency permit before the end of their temporary permit, and to account for persons with an expired permit in the process of renewal.

Statistics Canada regularly reviews and revises demographic estimates

To ensure the DEP remains relevant and accurate, Statistics Canada regularly reviews its estimation methods and adjusts as required. This is a normal part of our process, and such a review has been well underway for several months, post-2021 Census of Population and aligned with the 2021 Census coverage studies. Reviews are conducted in collaboration with key partners, such as IRCC and the provincial and territorial statistical focal points. Full results of the most recent evaluation will be released, as planned, on September 27, 2023.

Canada welcomes NPRs to mitigate the effects of labour shortages, to admit international postsecondary students, to contribute to the country’s economic prosperity, and to respect its international obligations. Statistics Canada continues to adapt its outputs in order to reflect policy and program changes to ensure Canadians have as robust and accurate a picture as possible based on the census, administrative data, and sample surveys.

The number of NPRs has increased significantly since the end of the pandemic, and for the first time outpaced the number of immigrants in 2022. Preliminary demographic estimates for the first quarter of 2023 (January to March) indicate that this upward trend is continuing, with a record number of net NPRs in the first quarter as well.

Based on the review undertaken collaboratively with IRCC and the provincial and territorial statistical focal points over the past several months, and to reflect the current administrative realities of the NPR program, the method used to estimate the number of NPRs in Canada has been updated. We have made enhancements to the estimation of dependents of NPRs and accounted for increased processing times for NPR permit renewals.

2021 Census-based demographic estimates and detailed data on NPRs to be released on September 27, 2023

As previously announced and planned, Statistics Canada will publish the first series of demographic estimates based on 2021 Census data and its related coverage studies.

A complete set of new data tables on the number of NPRs by type of permit and by province and territory will also be released.

Statistics Canada will publish its first series of demographic estimates based on the 2021 Census and coverage studies for subprovincial and subterritorial levels, such as census metropolitan areas (CMA), on May 22, 2024.

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