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