The History Of Economic Migration In Canada


Immigrant recruitment is critical to Canada’s current and future economy. Newcomers fill labor shortages in the country, start or expand enterprises, and invest in the local economy. Employees and employers are both economic immigrants that contribute to the prosperity of Canada. When they immigrate to the state, the majority of them become permanent residents. Talent, creativity, family members, and financial capital are all brought to Canada by economic immigration. They also contribute to the development of the country’s culture, legacy, and possibilities. These immigrants benefit from technological advancement, productivity, and economic growth. This paper aims to analyze the history of economic migration in Canada by applying different economic theories and concepts.


Over the previous 150 years, the number of landed immigrants in Canada has fluctuated dramatically. Some of these shifts can be traced back to changes in immigration policy, while others can be attributed to the state of the Canadian economy or global events involving the flow of migrants and refugees. For example, between 6,300 and 133,000 immigrants were admitted to Canada per year in the late 1800s (Fleras, 2018). In the early 1900s, when Canada was pushing the settlement of Western Canada, record numbers of immigrants were accepted (Fleras, 2018). In 1913, more than 400,000 immigrants arrived in the country, which was the biggest amount ever recorded (Fleras, 2018). During the period between 1870 to 1913, the West was settled, high levels of investment were made, rapid economic growth was achieved, and a national economy was established. Immigration policy was part of a broader set of national policies during these years, and indeed until 1930 (Fleras, 2018). Three transcontinental railways were completed, high levels of protection against the entry of secondary manufactured goods were imposed, and a land program was implemented to encourage people to live in the West.

The above-mentioned policies were intended to unite Canada as a whole, with a strong eastern industrial sector selling its wares to a growing western resource industry. Immigration promotion was a key component of the growth agenda. The government was forced to replace the previous Act of 1869 with a new Act in 1910 as a result of massive immigration inflows from the United States and other countries beginning in 1896 (Fleras, 2018). This Act incorporated a fundamental strategy of focusing on a prospective immigrant’s country of origin, which remained unchanged until 1962 when a non-discriminatory set of laws was developed. It is seen that making economic policies aligned with national policies is crucial in providing favorable conditions for economic migration.

After World War II, people uprooted by war or political turmoil, as well as the weakening of European economies, fueled much of the postwar immigration to Canada. Canada’s postwar immigration policies, on the other hand, were a significant factor. These policies influenced the number of new arrivals, the sorts of immigrants, and the nation of origin of new entrants because they stated who would be accepted and under what terms. Yet, these policies had obstacles related to national origin as some people could obtain a permit to work while others could not; thus, causing troubles to economic immigration.

New laws, however, eliminated national origins as a factor for admittance in 1962. Further regulations adopted in 1967 maintained this idea and replaced it with a point system based on an applicant’s age, education, language abilities, and economic criteria. Immigrating to Canada became significantly easier for people born outside of Europe and the United States as a result of these legislative changes (Fleras, 2018). The 1967 legislation also confirmed immigrants’ ability to sponsor relatives for entry into Canada, which had been extended since the 1950s (Fleras, 2018). Family-based immigration had always coexisted with economic immigration, but it was now clearly defined for new entrants. The makeup of the immigrant population was also reshaped by an immigration strategy based on concepts of family reunification and labor market contribution. It meant that persons from any country may be admitted if they met the immigration regulations’ requirements.

An important point to address in the analysis of economic immigration is entrepreneurship as immigrant open their businesses after a long time in the country. According to Schumpeter, entrepreneurship is linked to the process of “creative destruction,” in which an external innovation disrupts the cyclical system’s state (Bodrožić and Adler, 2018). The breakdown of the equilibrium situation and the formation of new conditions are implied by the innovative process of entrepreneurial activity in this paradigm. The entrepreneur is a figure whose innovative action disrupts established order and creates unrest. Therefore, it is vital to regulate the role of entrepreneurs and manage their activities on a national level as they drive the economy.


Overall, immigration was and continues to be a driver of the Canadian economy. Those who see immigration primarily as a short-term labor market policy instrument and those who believe in its long-term benefits have fought each other throughout Canada’s policy history. For the former, immigration can give specific benefits in the form of workers who are specifically targeted to fill labor market shortages. Immigration is a long-term economic growth engine for the latter.


Bodrožić, Z., & Adler, P. S. (2018). The evolution of management models: A neo-Schumpeterian theory. Administrative Science Quarterly, 63(1), 85-129.

Fleras, A. (2018). Canadian exceptionalism: From a society of immigrants to an immigration society. In Immigration, Racial and Ethnic Studies in 150 Years of Canada (pp. 301-324). Brill.