Chapter 4

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This chapter provides information on the data sources pertaining to immigration, and the methods used to produce estimates of immigrants by age and sex by province and territory. Information on the other four components of international migration can be found in the subsequent chapters.

4.1 Data sources and relevant concepts

The immigrant population refers to landed immigrants in Canada. An immigrant refers to a person who is or has ever been a landed immigrant (permanent resident) and who has been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Immigrants are either Canadian citizens by naturalization (the citizenship process) or permanent residents under Canadian legislation. Some immigrants have resided in Canada for a number of years, while others have arrived recently. Most immigrants are born outside Canada, but a small number are born in Canada. Also, children born in other countries to parents who are Canadian citizens that reside temporarily in another country are not included in the category as they become Canadian citizens at birth. For the Demography Division, the terms immigrant, landed immigrant and permanent resident refer to the same concept.

In Canada, immigration is regulated by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) of 2002. This statute superseded the Immigration Act, which was passed in 1976 and amended more than 30 times in the years thereafter. Under the IRPA, there are three basic categories of permanent residents:Note 1 economic class, family class, and protected persons category (or refugees).

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) collects and processes immigrants' administrative files. It then provides Statistics Canada with information from Field Operational Support System (FOSS) files. CIC is currently transitioning towards a new system—the Global Case Management System (GCMS). The information is used to estimate the number and characteristics of people granted permanent resident status by the federal government for a given period. Immigrants are usually counted on or after the date on which they are granted permanent resident status or the right to live in Canada.

4.2 Estimates of immigration, Canada, provinces and territories

Maintaining Canadian immigration statistics is statutory. Measuring the number of immigrants entering Canada in a given period is straightforward, and adjustments to the data are not required. Information is available for each person entering Canada under immigrant status from CIC's administrative file.

Every month, CIC makes a data file containing the records of immigrants for the previous month available to Statistics Canada, as well as any additions or updates to data already received. Given that there are typically few changes to the CIC data, the differences between preliminary and final estimates are very small.

For provincial and territorial estimates, the file obtained from CIC indicates the province or territory of intended destination on arrival, rather than the province or territory in which the immigrant actually settles. In a small number of cases, information on the province of destination is missing. These cases are distributed proportionally between the provinces and territories according to the observed distribution of immigrants for whom this information is available.

4.2.1 Immigration estimates by age and sex

The distribution of immigrants by age and sex is also straightforward as these variables are available from the file provided by CIC. The distribution only requires a basic tabulation by age and sex. In the event of missing information, these cases are prorated according to the distribution of immigrants for whom the information is available.

4.2.2 Levels of estimates

The difference between preliminary and final estimates relies on how current the source used to estimate the component is. Since the FOSS file is continually being updated, new calculations are carried out every year to update the immigration estimates. Immigration estimates are preliminary for the first year, and finalized the following year.


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