New Delhi, September 22 (IANS). Beginning with a handful of immigrants landing in the city of Vancouver in 1904, Indians today form one of Canada’s largest and most well-integrated immigrant communities, numbering approximately 1.85 million, or 5.1 percent of the country’s population.
When the North American nation ended its discriminatory immigration policies in the 1960s to create a more multicultural society, Indians began moving to Canada in search of better economic prospects. Among these, a large number were from Punjab alone.
According to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), the number of Indians immigrating to Canada has more than tripled in the last 10 years. It has increased by 260 percent from 32,828 in 2013 to 1,18,095 in 2022.
“Such an increase is expected in refugee status, not because of increases in international students and employment-based immigrants,” a 2023 Forbes report said.
Early Indian settlers, mostly concentrated in the province of British Columbia, worked as laborers in the railway and agricultural industries, earning from one to a quarter of a dollar per day. 20-50 of them lived under one roof in accommodation called bunkhouses.
Indians today occupy top positions in Canadian business, political, economic, educational, hospitality, healthcare and other spheres, increasing their status in the local society.
A 2022 study from Statistics Canada shows that the average wage earned by immigrants who became permanent residents was 31,900 Canadian dollars in 2019, the highest amount recorded among all groups of immigrants since 1981.
The makeup of the Indian community has changed rapidly over the past 10 years with a significant influx of Indian students and the introduction of the Express Entry program in 2015 to attract highly-skilled professionals.
According to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), 2,26,450 Indian students came to study in Canada in 2022, which was more than any other country.
A report by the Wilson Center said 34 per cent of international students in Canada from 2015 to 2019 came from India, providing an important source of revenue to Canadian educational institutions and this share is expected to increase to 40 per cent by 2022.
The American think tank said, “This number translates directly into the labor force. Indians had the highest number of post-graduate work permit holders in 2018. It was 20 percent for China and only one percent for the US.”
According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, Indian students contributed $4.9 billion to the Canadian economy in 2021.
According to the report of the Technology Councils of North America, more than 15 thousand Indian technical workers came to Canada between April 2022 and March 2023, which was the largest number from any single country.
The demand for Indian talents in STEM, IT, education, healthcare and accounting sectors in Canada has increased rapidly as the country not only relaxed its immigration policies but also opened work permits to H1-B visa holders from the US Are.
Nearly 75 percent of H1-B visa holders in the US are Indians, who are the major beneficiaries of the scheme.
India has become the major source of immigration to Canada in the last 10 years. More than 1,18,000 Indians were granted “permanent resident” or PR status last year, accounting for 27 per cent of the total PRs issued.
Although most of these Indians are found in all corners of the country, a large population is still concentrated in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.
Among the Canadian provinces, Ontario is the most popular among Indians. More than 55 percent of the community lives in the region’s cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo and Brampton.
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the capital of Ontario. Nearly six lakh Indian-Canadians live here.
After Ontario, about 22 percent Indians are spread in cities like Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna, Victoria etc. of British Columbia. Of those, 10 percent are found in Alberta. They then live in Manitoba, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.
According to the 2021 Census, the proportion of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs in Canada’s population has more than doubled in 20 years.
During this period, the population of Muslims has increased from 2 percent to 4.9 percent, that of Hindus has increased from 1 percent to 2.3 percent and that of Sikhs has increased from 0.9 percent to 2.1 percent.
Hinduism is the third largest religion in Canada, and as of 2021 there were over 828,000 Canadians of Hindu religion. Canada’s Sikh population is the largest in the world outside India at 7,71,790 people.