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Canada: A Favored Destination for Affluent Global Citizens on the Move

Yannick Archambault

Yannick Archambault

Yannick Archambault is a Partner and the National Leader for KPMG’s Family Office practice in Canada, which provides an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach for high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and their families.

Canada broke new records for immigration last year. For the first time in history, the country’s population grew by more than one million in 2022, with almost 40 million residents now living in Canada. Among them are 367,500 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) who have made Canada their home. The highest concentration of wealth can be found in Toronto, ranking 12th among 97 cities globally in Henley & Partners’ World’s Wealthiest Cities Report 2023, followed by Vancouver (29th), Montreal (48th), and Calgary (55th).

Number of affluent individuals continues positive trend

In mid-2022, Canada’s net inflow of HNWIs for the year was projected at 1,000, meaning an estimated 1,000 more affluent people (and, in many cases, families) were expected to migrate to Canada in 2022 than leave. In fact, the number of HNWIs migrating to Canada in 2022 was higher than expected. As the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2023 reveals, the actual net inflow figures for 2022 indicate 1,200 (20%), ranking Canada 7th among the top 10 countries with the highest net inflows of private wealth migration.

View of Vancouver, Canada, with boats in a harbor and buildings behind it

As the Henley Private Wealth Migration Dashboard shows, Canada ranked 8th among the world’s wealthiest countries by HNWI population (W10), as of December 2022. This ranking is consistent with Canada’s position in 2021.

Looking ahead, according to Henley Private Wealth Migration Report, the worldwide private wealth migration figures for 2023 to 2024 are forecast to be the highest on record. For 2023, Canada is forecast to be in the top 10 in terms of net inflows of HNWIs once again, rising to 6th place overall. Net inflow of HNWIs (with investable wealth of USD 1 million or more) is expected to be 1,600 — an increase of 400 from 2022.

Why Canada is a top choice

With the World Health Organization officially declaring the end of Covid-19 as a global health emergency, a growing number of HNWIs have become more mobile. Many are looking beyond their current borders and seeking options for a safe and stable environment. They’re also looking to enhance their lifestyle options and pursue new opportunities to continue to build their wealth, diversify their investments, and sustain the long-term performance of their businesses. Canada meets most, if not all, of those requirements. A strong financial, legal, and regulatory environment — combined with universal healthcare and a world-renowned education system — make the country a particularly desirable place to raise a family and operate a business.

Despite global economic and inflationary pressures, Canada’s economy has remained resilient overall, and there are supportive tax measures and incentives that benefit business owners and family-owned enterprises. A number of these tax measures are helping to drive sustainable and inclusive growth, entrepreneurship, and the country’s transition to a greener economy.

A more welcoming immigration environment 

Canada has a long-established commitment to human rights, inclusion, diversity, and equity, in addition to its social and environmental responsibilities — all of which align with the values of many HNWIs and their families. Canada’s family sponsorship program is playing a significant role in attracting, retaining, and integrating newcomers to the country. Affluent individuals across the world are accessing the opportunity to reunite with other family members who may already be well established in the country. In 2022, the federal government also introduced special initiatives to temporarily accept newcomers to Canada who were negatively affected by major geopolitical and environmental events.

Supporting a new wave of entrepreneurial leadership 

One reason why Canada is attracting so many HNWIs from abroad is the government’s Start-Up Visa Program. This popular program provides permanent residence to entrepreneurs and active investors in companies wanting to expand their businesses and establish a presence in Canada. Through this program, HNWIs who operate qualifying businesses can obtain work authorizations along with permanent residence in Canada for up to five company founders and their immediate family members.

The Start-Up Visa Program also facilitates the goals of HNWIs to expand their businesses globally. There are similar programs in Australia, the USA, and the UK (and others currently in development); however, Canada's program has a strong competitive advantage as it enables fast, predictable, and efficient entry for foreign nationals.

Graeme Black, a Partner with KPMG Law LLP’s Canadian Immigration practice recently stated, “The Start-Up Visa Program was created in 2015 and, over the last three years, the Canadian government has clarified several key points that make it easier to access and more predictable in terms of processing times and outcomes. Now, increasing numbers of high-net-worth individuals are accessing the program and sharing success stories about establishing their businesses in the Canadian market.”

The program has also gained attention and popularity because of Canada’s attractiveness for foreign direct investment, stable political landscape, diverse demographics, and proximity of cities such as Toronto and Vancouver to the US market. Both cities, which are preferred destinations for most Start-Up Visa participants, are known for their vibrant tech scenes, strong talent, and entrepreneurial ecosystems that support founders in developing and growing their businesses. Each city also has a diverse ex-pat population, which helps to make relocation more attractive by offering many amenities that are familiar to newcomers.

A land of possibilities 

Canada offers a unique combination of a stable economy, a high quality of life, and ample opportunities for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to grow and diversify their businesses and investments. The country’s strong research and development capabilities, including the biotech, renewable energy, financial technology, and information technology sectors, are particularly attractive to international entrepreneurs. There are significant opportunities for growth in each of these sectors that benefit from the presence of key industry players and access to a world-class labour market and educational system.

These factors and many others continue to make Canada a country of choice for affluent individuals and their families from around the world.

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