Big crowd of people. People gathered together in one place. Top view from drone.


June 27, 2024

Safety and prosperity are this country’s core value propositions. Here, a kid can arrive from anywhere in the world, enter public school and attend a relatively affordable university. They can graduate as a pharmacist or computer programmer or some other desirable professional, equipped to take advantage of the many opportunities Canada has to offer.

At least, that’s how it’s been for decades. How realistic is it now? The crushingly high cost of living makes everything harder. Finding an affordable place to live is nearly impossible, especially in major urban areas, especially for new arrivals. And what’s the payoff? Even good incomes now barely cover living expenses.

Last summer, Canada’s population reached a milestone: 40 million people. We opened our doors to temporary workers, international students and many other newcomers to address nationwide labour shortages. The sudden population surge surpassed projections and created a host of unforeseen problems.

Canadians tend to be pro-immigration, in part because many citizens are first- or second-generation immigrants themselves. But the consensus has begun to change, especially as homeless encampments and overcrowded shelters pop up in communities across the country and wait times for medical treatments grow longer.

At Maclean’s, we wanted to take a look at the implications of Canada’s recent population surge in a special immigration-themed issue. Remarkably, in the eight months or so we’ve been working on it, the population grew by another million: now there are 41 million people here. Justin Trudeau has said that the Liberals will now slow down the influx of newcomers.

In this issue, you can see why that might be a good idea. The writer Stephen Maher examines the policies that brought us to 41 million, and Jordan Michael Smith investigates why asylum seekers sometimes end up sleeping on the streets. Danny Ramadan, an author and Syrian refugee, assesses the strengths and weaknesses of Canada’s pioneering private sponsorship program, and Alex Cyr visits his home city of Charlottetown, which has transformed from a sleepy homogenous hamlet into a multicultural metropolis in less than a decade. The stories all show, in different ways, the significant challenges Canada is facing. Are the difficulties chronicled in this issue just short-term pain for long-term gain? Only time will tell.

Sarah Fulford, editor-in-chief


For decades, Canada has been a model of inclusive immigration. But over the last few years, the Liberals have admitted too many people, too fast. Why did no one see it coming?

Afternoon Light in Charlottetown

For more than half a decade, Charlottetown has sustained the highest immigration rates in Canada. The influx has saved P.E.I. from demographic oblivion—and made it a case study in the perils of ultra-rapid growth.

JULY 2024_THE RELUCTANT REFUGEE_Photograph by Jennilee Marigome

I was one of the first Syrian refugees to land in Canada in 2014. The settlement process was confusing, prolonged and alienating. How Canada finally became home.


Thousands of refugees live in shelters, hotels and on the streets of Canada’s largest cities. How the country is struggling to cope with a massive surge in global asylum seekers.


Over the past two years, Canada has welcomed a record number of immigrants. Here are some of their stories.

photography by IAN BROWN


These stories appear in the July issue of Maclean’s. You can buy the issue here or subscribe to the magazine here.