young students having fun

While Canadian population growth evaporated during the pandemic, a return of international students drove a turnaround in the first quarter, according to RBC Economics.

“Stronger-than-expected international migration lifted Canada’s population by 82,000 in the first quarter, the fastest quarterly increase since the pandemic began,” the bank reported in a research note.

Specifically, RBC said that new study permits rose by 44% year-over-year, and new post-graduate work visas jumped by 160% in the first quarter.

“This is good news after seeing Canada’s international post-secondary student population fall by 60,000 in 2020,” the note said.

Nevertheless, the pandemic still amounts to “a lost year” for Canadian population growth. Births exceeded deaths by just 6,400 in 2020, it said, marking “the lowest level in recorded history — as a result of both population aging and Covid-19 related loss of life.”

Looking ahead, increased immigration will likely have to drive future growth, the note said.