Figures for 2015 show that international immigration to British Columbia is down by 66% for the first half of this year, representing a 15-year low. The first half of 2015 saw less than 6,000 new immigrants arriving in B.C. compared to over 18,000 over the same period last year.
Additionally, figures show that the province saw the first net loss of immigrants in more than a decade, when net immigration fell to negative 1,808 people in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Analysts say the fall in immigration will have a big impact on property demand in B.C. Most mortgage companies have been basing their housing market forecasts on the assumption that B.C. would see around 35,000 new immigrants arrive annually, but are now having to revise those forecasts downwards.
The decline is reportedly due to a “sharp decline in immigration from Asia and Pacific area countries,” with the inflow of permanent resident immigrants to B.C. falling 19% through the first half of this year.
Some experts have also blamed the fall on changes made to the B.C. TFW program that resulted in an exodus of foreign workers from the province, with no new workers coming in to take their place.
The Conservative government had set April 1, 2015 as the deadline for low-skilled temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to leave the country. There are an estimated 70,000 TFWs in B.C., and many more TFWs are expected to leave. Consequently net immigration levels are predicted to remain low for the foreseeable future.
Overall, the decline is seen as a result of government policy that has made it harder for immigrants to relocate to Canada, coupled with policies that force the departure of many currently residing in the province. The property market in British Columbia is expected to cool off as a result.