Edmonton region leads in attracting and retaining international talent. Immigration trends in the Edmonton region, Alberta, Canada. Canadian immigration stats

Edmonton region leads in attracting and retaining international talent

Published On
February 27, 2023

2022 saw historic immigration trends in Canada, and was a record-breaking year for the Edmonton region (Figure 1). The region welcomed close to 22,000 newcomers — more than 20% higher than the next highest year in 2016. As Canada’s fifth largest metropolitan region, the Edmonton region relies on immigration to sustain its economic growth. The population of the Edmonton region has now surpassed 1.5 million.

Figure 1: International migration trend to the Edmonton region over time (2001-2022)

Figure 1: International <yoastmark class=

Source: Statistics Canada

More than one in four people in the Edmonton region would be described as recent immigrants as defined by Statistics Canada — an amount greater than all but three of Canada’s major cities (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Immigrant population as proportion of total population by Canadian city

Source: Statistics Canada

What’s more, the Edmonton region had the fastest growing immigrant population of any major Canadian city between 2016 and 2021, behind only Winnipeg (Figure 3). If this trend continues, we can expect the region to start to close the population gaps with some of its larger neighbours.

Figure 3: Rate of growth in proportion of immigrants between 2016 and 2021 by Canadian City

Figure 3: Rate of growth in <yoastmark class=

Source: Statistics Canada

Estimates from the City of Edmonton are projecting that there will be 1.7 million people in the region by 2031 (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Projected population for the city of Edmonton and the Edmonton census metropolitan area

Figure 4: Projected population for the city of Edmonton and the Edmonton census <yoastmark class=

Source: City of Edmonton, Fall 2022 Forecast Update

The Edmonton region also leads Canada in immigration ‘stickiness’. More newcomers tend to stay in the Edmonton region relative to other Canadian cities. This is demonstrated through data from Statistics Canada which tracks where immigrants enter Canada — and where they subsequently file taxes over time. On a five-year-rolling basis, Edmonton is consistently in the top three major Canadian cities for retention of immigrants.  In fact, the longer out you look the more attractive Edmonton becomes in the eyes of newcomers. Figure 5 tracks retention rates of immigrants that landed in Canada over a ten year period. After one year, ~85% of new immigrants had stayed in Edmonton; and, after ten years ~82% are still in Edmonton — this is the highest rate among major Canadian cities.

Figure 5: Retention rates of immigrants by city

Figure 5 tracks retention rates of immigrants that landed in Canada over a ten year period

Source: Statistics Canada

Also interesting is that Edmonton has consistently retained more immigrants that come to Canada for “economic” reasons (i.e. jobs and opportunities) compared to peer cities (Figure 6).

Figure 6: retention rate of economic immigrants by Canadian city over time (average percent 2015-2020)

Source: Statistics Canada


The Edmonton region is home to more than 1.5 million people who make up a diverse and vibrant community. Immigration is key to the local economy as it supports the talent pool that investors are looking for. In a time where regions around the world are competing for talent, it’s encouraging to see that the Edmonton region is already among the most attractive in Canada for immigrants. Trends demonstrate that the region is becoming increasingly attractive – exciting news for businesses —new and established— as newcomers bring fresh skills, drive and entrepreneurship; and, cultural richness.

Jeff Bell

Jeff Bell is the Director of Research and Business Intelligence at Edmonton Global. His knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep – and when a question arises, he enjoys digging deep into the data to provide solid defensible research that can inform strategy. His network includes a broad range of experts, so if he doesn’t have the answer, he knows where to get it. Reach out to Jeff if you know of an innovative business that should be tied into his network.