The NWT Bureau of Statistics says the Northwest Territories just recorded its highest-ever annual and quarterly numbers of immigrants arriving from outside Canada.

The NWT has long courted foreign immigrants as a means of boosting its population and economy, not least through the five-figure increase in federal transfer payments the NWT receives with each additional resident.

However, the territory has faced recent criticism for its tougher rules regarding some means by which foreign nationals can receive permanent residency, compared to other Canadian jurisdictions.

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A report published by the NWT Bureau of Statistics on Friday said 256 people moved to the territory from abroad in the past fiscal year (April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018), 101 of whom arrived between January and March this year. For both the fiscal year and the quarter, the bureau says this is the “highest number of immigrants ever.”

According to the report, the share of immigrants settling in the NWT remains “relatively low” compared to most southern Canadian provinces, but the number of immigrants has still increased by 156 percent in the past decade.

Immigrants are defined as “anyone who is or has ever been a landed immigrant/permanent resident and has been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities.”

Their importance to the territory’s population growth is underlined by the fact that – even with the past year’s record foreign immigration figures – more people left the territory than arrived in that 12-month period.

Using Statistics Canada estimates, the NWT bureau said 44,736 people were living in the Northwest Territories on April 1 this year.

That’s an increase of 152, or 0.3 percent, but 2,539 people moved away from the territory in that time – compared to only 2,026 arriving.

The overall increase is attributable to there being significantly more births (660) than deaths (225) in the NWT during that time.

The territory’s 0.3 percent year-on-year population increase represents the lowest of any Canadian province or territory with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, where the population decreased by 0.6 percent in the same period.

Nunavut experienced the largest growth in the period, recording a 2.1 percent population increase.