In the 1970s, under the direction of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canada officially adopted a policy to promote multiculturalism, and ever since it’s been a key part of the Canadian identity. Canada has one of the highest immigration rates per capita among developed nations. In 2018 alone, Canada will welcome over 310,000 immigrants into the country. 57% of those immigrants will arrive as skilled workers. The rest will be refugees or join family already living in Canada. Altogether, 22.3% of the Canadian population identifies as a visible minority and 21.9% as foreign-born.
Canada is also known for its ‘mosaic’ approach to multiculturalism, where people from all cultures live in harmony, while also maintaining their cultural heritage and religious practices. In Canada, there are over 30 ethnic communities with 100,000+ people, and 11 that have a million or more people. This stands in contrast to ‘melting pot’ cultures where immigrants are expected to blend in and assimilate to the norms of their new home. Canada’s urban centres such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are particularly diverse, and home to many ethnic neighbourhoods. In Toronto, which is regularly referred to as ‘the most multicultural city in the world,’ more than half of the population identifies as a visible minority.
Beyond being multicultural, Canada is known for its diversity and inclusivity in other ways. The country has strong support for the LGBTQ community. In 2005, Canada became the 4th nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage and the first outside of Europe. A 2017 poll found that Canadians overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage with 74% saying: “it’s great that two people of the same sex can get married in Canada.” Canada also officially declared June Pride Month in 2015 and hosts the annual Toronto Pride Parade, which is one of the world’s largest LGBTQ celebrations.
Women also have a strong voice in Canada. When Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister in 2015, he committed to a cabinet with 50/50 representation between genders. Basic women’s rights such as voting, access to birth control and abortion are long-established and protected. Though there’s still room for improvement in getting women into leadership roles in Canada, Canadian women have a high workforce participation rate, with 82% of women between the ages of 25 to 54 opting to work outside of their home.
Canada punches above its weight when it comes to the world economy. Despite having the 38th largest population in the world, Canada has the 10th largest economy, with an output of 1.6 trillion or $48,100 per capita. Canada overtook Russia in 2015 to claim a top 10 spot. Though Canada is well-known for its wealth of natural resources, Canada’s economy is actually heavily service-oriented, with 78.9% of Canadians working in a service-related job, according to Statistics Canada. Though the goods-producing sector is relatively small in comparison to the service sector, Canada’s manufacturing and oil and petroleum industries have experienced small but steady annual growth over the last several years.