• Rank: 6 out of 38
  • MIPEX Score: 68
  • HEALTH 49

Key Findings

Changes in context

  • Around 1/5 of residents are born abroad in this large and longstanding country of immigration
  • Family migrants and university-educated made up a slight majority of permanent immigration 
  • Generally most positive attitudes towards immigrants in developed world, alongside other English-speaking and Nordic countries 
  • Conservatives with minority-government from 2006-2011 and majority from 2011-today

Changes in policy

Often seen at home and abroad as a country of equal opportunities for immigrants, CA has actually undergone several small restrictions in recent years that all together sent CA in the opposite direction, losing one point on the MIPEX 100-point-scale. Permanent residents face greater waits, restrictions and documentation burdens to become CA citizens, reunite dependent family and secure them equal residence. 

Conclusions and recommendations

Losing points on the MIPEX scale raises questions about the future direction of CA's traditionally inclusive integration policies. One key to CA's immigration model has been that selected immigrants arrive as permanent residents with equal rights to invest in their integration and quickly become full CA citizens. Recent delays and restrictions to family reunion and citizenship may bring unintended consequences for permanent residents, doing more harm than good to CA's integration outcomes. Moreover, the increasing number of temporary workers may also be discouraged and delayed to invest in their integration, as they have limited opportunities to try out new jobs or trainings, learn EN or FR for free or become permanent residents, citizens and voters.

In the meantime, CA still leads the developed world in promoting rapid labour market integration, non-discrimination and a common sense of belonging. Immigrants and CA citizens generally enjoy the same access, social rights and strong discrimination protections on CA's flexible labour market. New settlement services are frequently piloted and evaluated through qualitative studies, clear performance indicators and available longitudinal data. Both low- and high-educated newcomers benefit from the increasing funds for settlement services, long-term language support and bridging/recognition procedures, depending on their sector/province. Federal and provincial support for cultural diversity not only encourages immigrants to identify with CA and contribute to civil society. It also helps CA society to understand and respond to newcomers' specific needs, be they in the labour market, adult education, schools, health system or local community. Overall CA's policies are slightly favourable for integration in most areas of life. These policies score 68/100 and rank 6th out of the 38 countries, alongside AU, slightly below NZ, PT and Nordic countries and above the US and UK.

Policy Recommendations from the Ryerson Centre for Immigration & Settlement

  • Increase entrepreneurship and survival rates of immigrant businesses as a route to integration and prosperity
  • Increase family reunion for all residents separated from their close family and dependents
  • Speed up democratic participation by allowing immigrants to vote in local elections
  • Provide more access to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers and irregular migrants
  • Maintain high naturalisation rates for newcomers by revoking recent barriers




Labour Market Mobility

Key Findings

Permanent residents, reunited families and some temporary workers in CA enjoy some of the best labour market opportunities in the developed world

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have equal rights and opportunities to access jobs and improve their skills?

Migrant workers and their families have some of the best labour market opportunities in CA, ranked 5th – far better than in AU, CA, US or in Europe on average (see instead DE and Nordics). CA encourages and supports most newly arrived legal residents to quickly find a job matching their skills, making labour market integration a priority from day one in CA (and even beforehand, see box). Permanent residents, reunited family and some temporary residents are given an equal foothold in the CA labour market with equal rights as CA citizens to access jobs, education, training, public services and benefits. Like other traditional and leading destinations, CA tries to make equal opportunities a reality for newcomers with a wide range of work-related settlement services from information/orientation services to high-level sector-specific language courses, bridging and internship programs and new standards for qualification recognition. 

Dimension 1: Access to labour market

  • Most immigrants have the same right to work or start a business in any sector in CA, as in most countries traditionally attracting labour migration (e.g. US, ES/PT/IT, Nordics and to some extent AU, JP, KR, NZ, UK). 
  • Permanent residents, reunited family and some temporary residents have the right to change jobs and sectors just like CA citizens

Dimension 2: Access to general support

  • Many newcomers have equal access to the general support measures that CA citizens to develop their skills and find the right qualified job
  • Immigrants have greater access to general support in CA than in most other countries (ranking 6th, alongside DE/NL/Nordics, PT/ES)
  • Permanent residents, reunited family and some temporary residents can access education, training and study grants in the same way as CA citizens
  • Internationally-trained people should have an easier time applying for and receiving a formal recognition of their foreign qualifications under the 2009 Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications 
  • Under the framework, skilled workers should also have the option of a prior learning assessment and recognition (CAPLA, see also AU, UK, BE/FR/CH DE/NL/Nordics)
  • Recognition procedures can still be long, difficult and uneven in practice across sectors and provinces (see similar attempts in federal countries in AU, DE and clearer procedures in DK, NL, NZ, NO, SE, UK)

Dimension 3: Targeted support

  • Immigrants may find that their specific problems as newcomers trained abroad are addressed on the labour market, with average targeted support provided in CA as in Northern Europe and AU  
  • Federal budget for federal and provincial settlement services has tripled since its creation in 2006 to $600 million in 2012/3; Provinces provide additional top-up funds for settlement and multiculturalism (e.g. QC’s 2015-16 budget of $22.5 million over 3 years for labour market integration)
  • Newcomers can be informed about how to find jobs,  training and settlement services in CA, even from abroad (CIIP and COA) 
  • Newcomers first go to Language Assessment Centres and then Language Instruction for Newcomers in CA (LINC), including advanced courses targeted and based at work
  • Specific bridging/work placement programmes in private and public sector (see also Nordics, DE, AU/NZ) 
  • Internationally-trained people should benefit from better information and quicker procedures for their recognition of their qualifications, under the Pan-Canadian Framework
  • Other countries are piloting and evaluating new forms of targeted support, such as individual settlement coaches (BE, Nordics), large-scale mentoring programmes (AT, DE, PT) and one-stop-shops for settlement services (PT best in Europe) and qualification recognition (e.g. DK, NL, NZ UK)

Dimension 4: Workers' rights

  • All workers in CA should have the same working conditions and access to social security
  • Equal rights are also guaranteed in DE, NL, Nordics

Policy Box

Immigrants preparing to move to Canada also receive free information and individual advice on language and vocational training options through the free Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) in a wide range of countries of origin. A 2009 pilot voucher program by Citizenship and Immigration Canada also significantly increased enrolment by informing randomly selected newcomers about the available free language training.

Family Reunion

Key Findings

Recent changes start to undermine CA's traditionally family-friendly policies that welcome immigrant families of all sorts who have the minimums needed and required for life in CA

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants reunite with family?

Most CA residents have favourable chances to secure their family life as the starting point for their integration in CA. Traditionally, both family and labour immigration have been promoted by traditional destination countries like AU, CA, NZ and US. CA recognises many types of families and gives them equal rights as their sponsor. The current CA government has picked up on certain international trends to restrict the definition of the family for immigrants, dropping 3 points on MIPEX. While family reunion was restricted since 2010 in 10 often high-scoring countries, the procedures and rights were improved in 12 others (usually the most restrictive countries). Interestingly, CA, AU, NZ and UK chose to introduce similar restrictions in the same period. These types of restrictions expect immigrant families to live up to standards that many national families could not, such as higher incomes and no need for social benefits. 

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • Recent changes seriously restrict families' traditional eligibility to reunite in CA (-15 points on eligibility since 2011)
  • Immigration law recognises their spouse, common-law or conjugal partner, of the same or opposite sex in CA, as in the majority of countries
  • Traditionally, these families could also include minor or adult children, parents, grandparents and dependent relatives, including orphaned minors
  • Sponsorship of parents and grandparents was frozen in 2012 and reopened in 2014 based on revenue-generating rather than dependency criteria (see box)
  • Greater entitlements without caps/quotas for all dependent parents in 10 countries (e.g. PT, SE) or certain forms of dependency in 8 (e.g. KR, IT, NO, NZ, ES)
  • Young adults will have fewer chances to join their parents who live in CA since 2014 (age limit reduced from 22-to-19, exception for full-time students eliminated, leaving options for 19+ limited to young adults largely dependent on parents since childhood due to physical/mental condition)

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • One reason Canada attracts migrant workers is that all permanent residents can sponsor their families if they have basic means to support them. 
  • Eligible families must meet a few basic criteria in CA, ranking 9th alongside AU/NZ/US, PT, SE
  • Applicants must be able to cover the family's basic needs and pay rather high fees by international standards, as in the other traditional destination countries
  • Voluntary pre-departure programs help approved adult family members of workers (CIIP) and resettled refugees (COA) to make informed choices about their future life in CA 

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • CA residents are generally secure about their chances to reunite with family in CA, as in a few other MIPEX countries (e.g. IT/PT/ES)
  • The major weakness is the backlog, which has applicants waiting for years without knowing when they will be reunited with their family (similar problem in AU, NZ, US) 
  • CA authorities have tried to fast-track and prioritise certain files (Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification)
  • Additional grounds for rejection were announced by the Minister in 2012; reuniting spouses would be banned from sponsoring someone for family reunion within their first 5 years

Dimension 4: Rights associated

  • Families have the same access to the labour market, education/training and social benefits as their sponsor, as in the majority of MIPEX countries
  • Since 2012, adult family members face a longer period of conditional residency (raised from 0-to-2 years) before their residence permit becomes their own, independent of their sponsoring spouse
  • This path to autonomous residence is still rather short and clear compared to other countries (see also AU and NZ)

Policy Box

In 2012, the CA government placed a two-year moratorium on the sponsorship of parents and grandparents. Although the moratorium was lifted in 2014, a dramatically different system now requires a 30% higher minimum income. Whereas immigrants were previously required to support sponsored family members for 10 years, the new requirement is for 20 years. These higher-than-minimum levels go beyond the goal to ensure that sponsors have the basic resources to support their family. The stated goals are also to 'protect the interests of taxpayers' and to limit costs to CA's 'strained health and social programs'. The result is that reunification with dependent parents or grandparents may now be out of reach for many newcomers and impossible for lower-income immigrants. In addition, the number of permitted sponsorships is capped at 5,000 per year, with the stated aim to focus on backlogged previous applications. 


Key Findings

CA better sees the needs and opportunities of immigrant pupils and the benefits of multicultural education, much like other traditional destinations with large numbers of immigrant pupils

Potential Beneficiaries

How many pupils have immigrant parents?

Foreign-born children (i.e. 1st generation) make up 13% of all 15-year-old pupils in CA (similar to AU and NZ). These traditional countries of immigration also have a large number of 2nd generation pupils (16.6% in CA). 

Policy Indicators

Is the education system responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants?

Ranked 4th alongside AU and Nordic countries, CA has best practices across the country to address the new needs and opportunities that immigrant students bring to schools.  Only pupils in AU and SE benefit from such favourable new opportunities and intercultural education as in CA. Education policies are generally more targeted in countries with large numbers of immigrant pupils. Like CA, AU and NZ have developed strong targeted support and diversity policies through their official multiculturalism policies. In contrast, similar policies have been adopted in the US through a focus on vulnerable racial/social/language groups as well as in the Nordics due to their individualised needs-based approach for all pupils.

Dimension 1: Access

  • CA provinces provide some support for immigrant pupils to access all levels of the education system, similar to AU but behind the more extensive US approach
  • When newcomers arrive in most provinces, students have their prior learning assessed, while parents and children receive a full introduction to school life
  • All children in CA, regardless of their status, have the right to an education; Barriers to access only arise when undocumented students want to go to university
  • A few programs aim to guarantee equal access to university (e.g. international tuition waivers) and to vocational training/internships 
  • Provinces could consider more targeted measures if migrant children are not achieving or participating like peers with similar abilities and social backgrounds. In leading countries like the Nordics, AT, DE, US, newcomer pupils increasingly benefit from programmes to start and stay on academic tracks

Dimension 2: Targeting needs

  • CA schools systems propose a series of targeted measures to address immigrant students’ specific needs, though CA can also take inspiration from other best practices across the globe 
  • Pupils with language difficulties can master English or French because they have the right to high-quality second-language courses
  • Provincial governments tend to provide extra training for teachers and funding per student, and sometimes extra guidance or support (see other traditional countries of immigration and Nordics)

Dimension 3: New opportunities

  • Like few other countries (e.g. AU, SE), CA leads the developed world in recognising and using the new opportunities that immigrant pupils bring to the classroom
  • Students with an immigrant background can learn about their ‘heritage’ language and culture, either during the school day or afterwards
  • Individual schools decide whether or not to adapt their foreign language offer and school schedule so that all students could learn about the language and culture of their immigrant peers
  • Schools and immigrant communtiees are supported to engage immigrant parents
  • Education profession is more open to immigrants' skills than in CA than in most other countries, thanks to bridging courses for overseas trained teachers (see also AU, NZ)

Dimension 4: Intercultural education

  • All pupils in CA slightly benefit from the country’s multiculturalism policy (see also AU/NZ/UK, Nordics)
  • Most learn in school about how to live in a diverse society (as in BE, NO, PT, SE, UK)
  • Schools can modify the curriculum, daily life and in-service training to reflect the needs of a diverse student body
  • CA's Multiculturalism Program uses grants, government initiatives and coordinating bodies to promote intercultural and interfaith understanding, civic memory and pride, respect for core democratic principles and equal opportunities for all Canadians

Real beneficiaries

Are pupils with limited literacy getting remedial courses?

Targeted literacy support is available for the majority of 1st generation pupils with low-literacy skills, according to data collected by the 2012 OECD PISA study. The share of foreign-born low-literacy 15-year-olds enrolled in extra out-of-school literacy courses was 61% in CA (similar to AU/NZ/UK and a few EU countries, e.g. DE, IE, NO). Enrollment in this type of extra support was rather low (around 1/3) for 2nd generation and non-immigrant pupils with low-literacy skills.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain whether the children of immigrants excel at school?

  • >50% of both immigrant and non-immigrant pupils with low-educated mothers are concentrated in disadvantaged schools in CA
  • 1/2 of 1st/2nd generation pupils speak official language at home in CA, similar to IE, NZ, UK and OECD acverage
  • >25% of foreign-born pupils arrive after age 12 in CA and other EN-speaking countries (except US)

Outcome indicators

How well are the children of immigrants achieving at school?

The numbers of low-achievers among immigrants with low-educated mothers were comparatively low (20-40%) and similar to the numbers for non-immigrants with low-educated mothers in CA, as in AU, UK and a few EU countries (FR, IE, NL, UK). By the second-generation, the number of low-achievers is the same as for non-immigrants or fewer in CA, similarly in AU/NZ/US and IE.


Key Findings

Even in the migrant-rich provinces of Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, accessible and responsive healthcare services are not guaranteed for all migrants 

Policy Indicators

Is the health system responsive to immigrants' needs?

Health is a slight area of weakness for integration policies in CA, with major variations between provinces. Healthcare access and adaptation is more limited for migrants in CA than in all the other EN-speaking countries in the top 10 (AU, IE, NZ, UK and US) as well as the majority of Western European countries.

Click here to learn more about how MIPEX health was developed with IOM and EU’s COST/ADAPT network through ‘Equi-Health’ project and co-funded by European Commission’s DG SANTE. 

Dimension 1: Entitlements

  • Entitlements in law and in practice are weaker for more categories of migrants than in most countries, with CA ranking 29th alongside restrictive US/UK and far behind NZ, JP and most of Northwest Europe (FR, CH, Benelux, SE/NO)
  • After a three-month waiting period legal migrants are entitled to the same healthcare coverage as Canadian nationals, but the entitlements of undocumented migrants and certain asylum-seekers are below average (see box)
  • Both are nevertheless confronted with problems of documentation and discretion that undermine their entitlements and exemptions in practice
  • Exemptions do exist for both groups on health grounds (e.g. in Ontario for pregnancy, infectious diseases and trauma/torture)

Dimension 2: Access policies

  • Policies are only halfway favourable at facilitating access to these entitlements in Canada, AU and the average European country (see instead NZ, US, BE, FR, CH)
  • Newcomer patients get oriented to the healthcare system and major health issues, using many languages and methods, while intercultural mediators are being piloted at some government-funded community health centres
  • The groups targeted by these policies differ province-to-province
  • Migrants and providers may also be unclear about migrants' entitlements and the specific consequences for treating undocumented migrants

Dimension 3: Responsive services

  • Healthcare services across CA only go halfway to responding to migrants' specific health needs (see more constant practice in AU/NZ/US)
  • Interpretation is not required--and sometimes provided at some cost to patients (funding available in Alberta, Manitoba, and TC-LHIN's Language Services Toronto)
  • Cultural competency is required but not monitored
  • The training of staff and involvement of migrants depends on the province and the municipality (in Canada, e.g. see Multicultural Access Community Health Centres, see other examples in AU, NZ, UK, US).

Dimension 4: Mechanisms for change

  • Public health policies provide basic support to make services more responsible to migrants in CA, ranking 12th (see more coordinated policy actions in AU/NZ/UK/US, NO)
  • Migrants' specific needs can be identified through Canada's wealth of data and research, including, most recently, Health Equity Impact Assessments
  • Migrant health is usually addressed through ad hoc policies at provincial level, specialised providers and cooperation with expert and migrant stakeholders (e.g. Local Immigrant Partnerships)

Policy Box

Since 2012, asylum-seekers from 'designated countries of origin' (a.k.a. 'safe' countries of origin) are only eligible for coverage for diseases posing public health and safety risks (e.g. TB, HIV), while others get additional coverage for only urgent and essential services. Undocumented migrants are only entitled to emergency care across the country, except in 'sanctuary cities' (e.g. Toronto and Hamilton) where all migrants can access public health services. Ontario Temporary Health Program (OTHP) aims since 2014 to address gaps in healthcare coverage for pending and rejected refugee claimants after downscaling of Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP).

Political Participation

Key Findings

CA encourages immigrants to contribute to civic life by becoming CA citizens and becoming active in immigrant or local civil society thanks to the multiculturalism policy; but unlike other major destinations, CA does not experiment in local democracy through voting rights or immigrant consultative bodies

Potential Beneficiaries

Who are disenfranchised from voting?

Large numbers of noncitizen adults are disenfranchised in local elections in Europe (10 million in 13 EU countries). The same is true for foreign citizens in CA, JP, TU and US.

Policy Indicators

Do immigrants have comparable rights and opportunities to participate in political life?

Before newcomers become CA citizens, they can participate in civil society, but not in democratic life in CA, ranking 20th out of 38. The CA model of integration has been traditionally based on the assumption that all immigrants can and will rapidly become citizens after 3-4 years, spending their 1st years in CA focused on employment and settlement. In contrast, in AU, KR, NZ and most Western European countries, immigrant-run civil society is structurally consulted through often local, regional and national advisory bodies, while permanent or long-settled residents often have the right to vote in at least local elections. Compared to CA, these countries have either experimented more with political participation or maintained bodies and rights abolished in CA.  Interestingly, no trade-off exists between promoting political participation among foreigners and promoting naturalisation. Actually, countries with inclusive political participation policies tend to also have inclusive naturalisation policies and higher naturalisation policies.


Dimension 1: Electoral rights

  • CA is one of the few major destination countries (FR, DE, IT, US) without any voting rights for long-settled or permanent residents (see box on history of noncitizen voting rights)
  • Inspired by international examples, grassroots movements in CA (e.g. Toronto) and the US (most recently NYC) are mobilising city leaders behind local voting rights for newcomers, just like 21 other MIPEX countries (also provincial voting rights in 9)

Dimension 2: Political liberties

  • All people in CA enjoy freedom of opinion, association and assembly, as in most countries

Dimension 3: Consultative bodies

  • Immigrant leaders do not have the chance to inform local policy through immigrant consultative structures, which MIPEX finds in 27 countries 
  • These structures encourage the visibility/leadership of new immigrants and inclusive policymaking among authorities
  • CA is only major destination country without immigrant-led consultative bodies (alongside only 10 countries with very small and new immigrant communities, e.g. Central Europe, CY, MT)
  • Consultative structures are long-established in Northern Europe and spreading to new destinations (e.g. Southern Europe, KR) as well as traditional ones (AU Multicultural Council, NZ Auckland Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel, US Councils of new Americans) 
  • Possibilities in CA for expansion through Local Immigrant Partnerships (LIPs) and, in Toronto, TRIEC

Dimension 4: Implementation policies

  • Under CA's guiding multiculturalism policy, CA funds and supports immigrant-run civil society in order to reach out and develop lasting relationships with new communities
  • CA ranks 5th on support for immigrant civil society, alongside AU, NZ, DE, Nordics

Policy Box

CA extended voting rights to Commonwealth citizens until the 1970s. The EN-speaking countries of immigration have their own tradition and divergences on noncitizen voting rights. In contrast, Commonwealth voting rights were retained in UK, revised in AU (residents in only SA, VC) and extended in NZ to all permanent residents after 1 year and in IE to all legal residents. The US granted full voting rights to noncitizens declaring the 'intent to naturalize' until the 1920s' pushbacks against Eastern and Southern European immigration. FR-speaking destination countries have also progressively extended the franchise to noncitizens (CH FR-speaking cantons from 1849 to 2005, BE in 2004, LU in 2003 and 2011, with referendum on national voting rights in May 2015)

Permanent Residence

Key Findings

The increasing use of temporary residence in CA may exclude newcomers from a secure path to permanent residence, citizenship and better integration outcomes

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become long-term residents?

Like AU and NZ, CA traditionally granted permanent residence upon arrival or after just a few years, so that migrant workers, families and refugees can start their settlement process with secure and near-equal rights. CA's policies give immigrants a slightly favourable chance at a rather secure future and equal rights in CA. A wide range of legal residents have the option, but not the right, to apply under various conditions, though with high fees, backlogs/delays and an increasing number of quotas. The path is similar in NZ and clearer than in AU/IE/UK/US. In contrast, nearly all temporary residents have a clear path to become permanent residents in Western European countries (e.g. Nordics, PT/ES).

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • The eligibility rules are rather wide and flexible for potential permanent residents from both abroad and inside the country
  • CA still ranks 5th on eligibility, alongside AU/NZ, Nordics and ES
  • Immigrants can arrive as permanent residents and start their integration process with secure and near-equal rights Refugees and many family members are automatically permanent residents
  • Recent changes to the 'CA experience class' program have limited the possibilities for international students and the increasing number of temporary workers in CA to switch to permanent residence after a few years, with CA's MIPEX score likely to drop in 2015
  • CA Experience Class now features annual application caps and restrictions on the type of work experience that count for the requirements

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Workers that qualify under rather selective 'economic class' requirements can arrive as permanent residents in CA 
  • They must prove their economic resources and high-levels of English or French fluency, depending on their education/skills required for their profession
  • Temporary residents cannot learn EN or FR for free in CA as LINC is only open to refugees and permanent residents

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Immigrants are only halfway certain about obtaining and keeping permanent residence in CA, just as in AU/NZ/UK (see less discretionary approach in Northwest Europe)
  • The backlog is the major weakness in the procedure in CA (see legal time limits in most European countries)
  • Applicants obtain a permanent secure status, as in 26 other countries
  • All types of permanent residents can lose this status for a few grounds and long stays outside CA
  • Their individual circumstances will be considered and appeals are possible

Dimension 4: Rights Associated

  • Permanent residents are encouraged to rapidly integrate into social and economic life in CA through equal rights as CA citizens, similar to 29 other MIPEX countries (similar to JP, IE/UK and most EU countries)

Access to Nationality

Key Findings

"Reinforcing the value" of citizenship may not be worth the costs to Canada's traditional model of integration

Potential Beneficiaries

Who can become a citizen?

An estimated 867,100 foreign-born immigrants were eligible to become CA citizens, according to 2011 Statistics Canada.

Policy Indicators

How easily can immigrants become citizens?

Following 2012 and 2014 reforms, permanent residents face a slightly longer and more bureaucratic path to become citizens, with CA's citizenship score falling four points. Still, naturalisation remains a relative area of strength for integration in CA, alongside other traditional countries of immigration and an increasing number of Western European countries.

Dimension 1: Eligibility

  • The C-24/2014 Act delayed the wait for naturalisation by an extra year: permanent residents can apply after 4 out of 6 years instead of 3 out of 4
  • Overall, the eligibility requirements are still favourable in CA
  • Other countries are also converging towards short flexible residence requirements and some form of birthright citizenship

Dimension 2: Conditions

  • Permanent residents will find it much more bureaucratic and costly to prove that they meet the conditions for CA citizenship
  • Although CA has one of the most professional citizenship tests of all MIPEX countries (see box), the government considered it necessary to add an extra costly language proof in 2012, a good character requirement in 2014 and ever-higher fees.

Dimension 3: Security of status

  • Naturalising citizens are slightly insecure in their status
  • Although judges have oversight of the procedure, the Minister still retains significant discretion, which was slightly increased by the C-24 2014 Act in security cases
  • The Act also promises that more streamlined decision-making powers for the Minister will reduce CA's backlog and waiting times.

Dimension 4: Dual nationality

  • Naturalising citizens are allowed to become dual nationals since 1977 in CA and in an ever-growing majority of destination countries across the world (25 MIPEX countries)

Policy Box

Through free language courses (e.g. LINC) and study guides, permanent residents receive the support they need to learn English or French and basic facts about Canada. In CA before 2012, as in AU, NZ and US today, the citizenship test/interview was sufficient to demonstrate this knowledge. Canada's 2012 and 2014 reforms argued that these additional requirements will reinforce the value of Canadian Citizenship by ensuring that new citizens are "better prepared to assume the responsibilities of citizenship and have a strong attachment to Canada."

Real beneficiaries

How many immigrants are becoming citizens?

Since 2006, CA has naturalised over 1.5 million new citizens. Following the 2014 Act, the government reports that more than 200000 immigrants were naturalised in the first nine months of 2014—more than double the number in the same time period in 2013.

Contextual factors

What other factors explain why non-EU immigrants become citizens?

  • High share of permanent residents
  • Humanitarian migrants and immigrants from developing countries most likely to naturalise

Outcome indicators

How often do immigrants become citizens?

According to 2011 data, 92% of the foreign-born have become citizens after 10+ years in CA (OECD data). This is one of the highest success rates for naturalisation among MIPEX countries, alongside SE, PT, NL, AU, and most Nordic countries. CA's traditionally quick and clear path to citizenship is the strongest factor explaining its success. Immigrants from developing countries are much more likely to become citizens in countries with inclusive citizenship policies.


Key Findings

Potential victims of discrimination in CA and the US can seek justice under their world-leading anti-discrimination laws; CA makes the strongest commitment to equality through its human rights bodies and equity programmes

Policy Indicators

Is everyone effectively protected from racial/ethnic, religious, and nationality discrimination in all areas of life?

All people in the US (and CA) benefit from the strongest laws in the developed world to protect them against discrimination. As models for other countries of immigration, AU and NZ are trying to fill gaps in their legislation, while the few Western European countries with longstanding legislation are trying to make theirs easier to use through comprehensive single laws and bodies (e.g. FI, FR, IE SE, UK). Other European countries are still learning how to use their relatively recent laws (strong but new in BG, HU, RO).

Dimension 1: Definitions

  • These many types of discrimination are more clearly defined in CA, US, and UK legislation than in all other countries (see similar strong examples in NZ/SE)
  • Federal, provincial and territorial human rights codes protect victims of many types of discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, race, religion, nationality, or several grounds known as ‘intersectionality’ (see also US, UK) 


Dimension 2: Fields of application

  • People are protected from discrimination in all areas of public life, as in 15 other MIPEX countries

Dimension 3: Enforcement mechanisms

  • The one weakness in CA's anti-disrimination laws are the mechanisms to enforce the law, which only slightly support potential victims' access to justice
  • Ranked 14th, CA's mechanisms are weaker than leading European countries (e.g. FR, NL, SE) as well as AU, NZ, US
  • Rules on access to procedures and class actions differ province-to-province for discrimination victims 

Dimension 4: Equality policies

  • Internationally, CA provides the strongest equality bodies to help potential victims and the strongest equality policies to promote equality across government and society (see strong policies & bodies in NZ, FI, SE)
  • Depending on the province, official equality and human rights bodies have different legal mandates to advise victims, investigate their and other cases and bring them to court
  • CA authorities regularly conduct public campaigns and social dialogue on discrimination and racism
  • Federal level ‘employment equity’ programmes have been required since 1986 and monitored
  • One visible positive action for immigrants is the Federal Internship for Newcomers Program in federal departments, agencies and private organisations (e.g. policy, administration, project management, computer science, communications, science and finance)
  • CA can also learn from other types of equality duties in AU, FI, FR, NO, SE, UK and US



New results of MIPEX

We are pleased to announce that the new results of MIPEX (2014-2020) will be published by the end of 2020. MIPEX 2020 will include 52 European and non-European countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU28, India, Japan, Mexico, US and much more. Stay tuned!