Immigrants play a major role in country's population boom

Published March 18, 2007

Canada's population growth - the fastest of all major industrialized nations - is being powered by immigrants.

Statistics Canada's latest census data for 2006 found that newcomers to Canada made up three-fourths of the population boom over the past five years. If current trends continue, Canada is on track to become dependent on immigration for growth.

The country's population grew to 31.6-million, with native-born offspring up by only 400,000. Canada welcomed 1.2-million immigrants.

The overall population growth is 5.4 percent, just ahead of the rate of the United States at 5 percent.

There is an "immense urbanization" as 90 percent of the growth occurred in the 33 largest metropolitan areas, said Anil Arora of Statistics Canada. Less than 20 percent of the population now lives in small towns or rural areas.

Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton account for almost half of Canada's residents.

Oil-rich Alberta's population grew by 10.6 percent and Ontario was up 6.6 percent, while Saskatchewan and Newfoundland had declines around 1 percent.

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An "election-ready" federal budget with tax cuts is predicted when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers his budget Monday.

With the Conservative government's surplus approaching $8-billion, economists say this gives Flaherty an opportunity to cover election promises to resolve the "fiscal imbalance" with provinces.

Also, the government would have enough money left over to provide as much as $3-billion in personal tax cuts for Canadians.

In brief

- The 3,000 workers at the DaimlerChrysler plant in Brampton, near Toronto, have agreed to shift-premium pay cuts of about $5,000 a year to help the facility remain competitive and protect their jobs. In exchange for the pay cut by members of the Canadian Auto Workers, the automaker agreed to make a $700-million investment to produce more vehicle models there.

- Dimitrije Pivnicki, the father-in-law of former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, died Wednesday in Montreal. Pivnicki, 89, was born in Serbia and had been a prominent psychiatrist.

- Liberals Jim Peterson and Bill Graham say they won't seek re-election as Toronto members of Parliament. Hall Findlay is expected to be given the nomination in Peterson's area. Former Ontario Premier Bob Rae will contest the nomination in Graham's area. Also, New Democrat Bill Blaikie of Winnipeg said he won't seek re-election after 28 years in office.

Facts and figures

The value of Canada's dollar is a little lower at 85.09 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.1752 in Canadian funds before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 4.25 percent while the prime-lending rate is 6 percent.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,820 points and the Canadian Venture Exchange at 3,068 points.

Lotto 6-49: Wednesday 12, 19, 22, 34, 46 and 47; bonus 36. (March 10) 9, 18, 28, 37, 42 and 49; bonus 24.

Regional briefs

- British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell met Thursday in Los Angeles with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to discuss a proposed Pacific Coast green plan. The two leaders envision the environmental initiative could potentially include the Canadian and U.S. governments. This is a chance "to act together and hopefully create some real continental momentum behind these greenhouse gas reductions and paying attention to climate change as an issue of urgency," Campbell said.

- Seal hunt protesters have launched this year's campaign against the controversial spring slaughter of baby harp seals on ice floes off Canada's east coast. The protesters are urging the European Commission to ban the import of Canadian seal products. Canada's Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn said the truth is the hunt is "sustainable and is carried out humanely."

- Judge Jed Hawco has overturned the controversial acclamation of Calgary West Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders and ordered a new nomination meeting. His unchallenged nomination had been contested by 11 party members who claim others did not have an opportunity to run. Anders is serving his fourth term of office.

- A Montreal demonstration by about 500 protesters upset over claims of police brutality turned violent, resulting in the arrests of 12 people. Riot squad officers moved in on the demonstrators after they targeted a McDonald's restaurant and other businesses, set fires and damaged a police van.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.