Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

2006 Census: Immigration, citizenship, language, mobility and migration

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

The Daily

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Statistics Canada today releases detailed analyses of data from the 2006 Census on immigration and citizenship, as well as the composition of Canada's language groups.

These analyses are now available in two online documents: Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-born Population, 2006 Census and The Evolving Linguistic Portrait, 2006 Census.

Also available are several tables that contain new census data on mobility and migration.

Immigration and citizenship

Proportion of foreign-born highest in 75 years

The 2006 Census enumerated 6,186,950 foreign-born people in Canada. They accounted for virtually one in five (19.8%) of the total population, the highest proportion in 75 years.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada's foreign-born population increased by 13.6%. This was four times higher than the growth rate of 3.3% for the Canadian-born population during the same period.

The census estimated that 1,110,000 immigrants came to Canada between January 1, 2001 and May 16, 2006. These newcomers made up 17.9% of the total foreign-born population, or 3.6% of Canada's total population of 31.2 million.

Recent immigrants born in Asia (including the Middle East) made up the largest proportion (58.3%) of newcomers to Canada. This was virtually unchanged from 59.4% in 2001. In contrast, in 1971, only 12.1% of recent immigrants for this period were born in Asia.

Newcomers born in Europe made up the second largest group (16.1%) of recent immigrants. Europe used to be the main source region of immigrants. In 1971, they accounted for 61.6% of newcomers to Canada.

In addition, an estimated 10.8% of recent immigrants were born in Central and South America and the Caribbean, up slightly from 8.9% in 2001. Another 10.6% of newcomers to Canada in 2006 were born in Africa, also up slightly from 8.3% in 2001.

A majority (70.2%) of the foreign-born population in 2006 reported a mother tongue other than English or French. (Mother tongue is defined as the first language learned at home in childhood and still understood by the individual at the time of the census.) Among the foreign-born who had a non-English, non-French mother tongue, the largest proportion reported Chinese languages (18.6%), followed by Italian (6.6%), Punjabi (5.9%), Spanish (5.8%), German (5.4%), Tagalog (4.8%) and Arabic (4.7%).

The Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver census metropolitan areas (CMAs) were home to 68.9% of the recent immigrants in 2006. In contrast, slightly more than one-quarter (27.1%) of Canada's total population lived in these three CMAs.

Between 2001 and 2006, higher proportions of recent immigrants chose to settle in smaller CMAs. Fully 16.6% of newcomers in 2006 settled in the CMAs of Calgary, Ottawa–Gatineau, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton and London. In 2001, by comparison, 14.3% of newcomers lived in these CMAs.

In 2006, 5.2% of newcomers chose to live in Calgary, 3.2% chose Ottawa–Gatineau, 2.9% chose Edmonton and 2.2% chose Winnipeg.

Within the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver CMAs, newcomers tended to live in the central municipalities, but an increasing share of newcomers chose the surrounding municipalities.

In the Toronto CMA, 59.8% of its newcomers resided in the city of Toronto. Its surrounding municipalities, such as Mississauga, Brampton and Vaughan, had an increased share of newcomers; 28.8% of recent immigrants in 2006 lived in these surrounding municipalities, up from 21.4% in 2001.

In the Montreal CMA, a majority of newcomers (76.3%) lived in the city of Montreal. Its surrounding municipalities, such as Laval, Longueuil, Brossard, Dollard-des-Ormeaux and Côte-Saint-Luc, saw an increased share of new immigrants; 15.0% of newcomers in 2006 lived in these surrounding municipalities, up from 11.2% in 2001.

In the Vancouver CMA, nearly three-quarters (74.7%) of recent immigrants lived in just four municipalities: the cities of Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby and Surrey.

The majority (85.1%) of the foreign-born who were eligible for Canadian citizenship in 2006 had become naturalized. The census enumerated 863,100 individuals, or 2.8% of the population, who reported a Canadian citizenship in addition to at least one other citizenship. Four out of every five of these individuals were foreign-born.


For the first time, one Canadian in five was allophone

For the first time, allophones, that is, people whose mother tongue is neither English nor French, represented fully one-fifth of the population of Canada, according to the census. These include Aboriginal languages, which will be featured in the 2006 analytical document on Aboriginal Peoples that will be released on January 15, 2008.

Anglophones—those people who reported English as their mother tongue—still accounted for the majority of Canadians. Although their numbers rose, their share of the population declined. The same was true of francophones, or people who reported French as their mother tongue.

In 2006, allophones represented 20.1% of the population, up from 18.0% in 2001. The proportion of francophones decreased from 22.9% to 22.1%, while the proportion of anglophones in 2006 was 57.8%, down from 59.1% in 2001.

The increase in the share of allophones is mainly related to the number of immigrants who arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2006. During this period, an estimated 1,110,000 newcomers settled here, and four out of five of them were allophone.

In total, the census enumerated 6,293,110 allophones, an increase of 18.0%, or 958,265, from 2001. This increase was three times the growth rate of 5.4% for the population as a whole between 2001 and 2006, and well above the 12.5% gain in allophones during the previous five-year period.

At the same time, the census counted 18,056,000 anglophones, up 3.0%, and 6,892,000 francophones, an increase of only 1.6%. Both increases were slightly higher than the growth rates registered during the previous five years.

Canadians reported more than 200 languages in completing the census question on mother tongue. These include languages long associated with immigration to Canada, such as German, Italian, Ukrainian, Dutch and Polish.

However, between 2001 and 2006, language groups from Asia and the Middle East recorded the largest gains. These language groups include the Chinese languages, Punjabi, Arabic, Urdu, Tagalog and Tamil.

The 2006 Census reaffirmed the position of the Chinese languages as Canada's third most common mother tongue group, behind English and French.

For the first time, more than 1 million people—an estimated 1,034,000—reported one of the Chinese languages as their mother tongue. This was an increase of 18.5%, or 162,000, from 2001. In 2006, they accounted for 3.3% of the total population of Canada, up from 2.9% five years earlier.

Italian remained in fourth place, although its numbers declined, and German fifth. Punjabi solidified its hold on sixth, with a strong 34.4% increase. These were followed by Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog and Portuguese.

The census showed that 9 out of 10 people speak English or French most often at home. Other languages are not spoken at home as often as they are reported as mother tongues.

Just over one-fifth (21.4%) of the population spoke French most often at home at the time of the census, down from 22.0% in 2001. Two-thirds (66.7%) of the population spoke English most often at home in 2006, down from 67.5% in 2001.

Only 11.9% of the population spoke a non-official language most often at home. However, this was up from 10.4% in 2001, mainly the result of the increase in immigration.

In Quebec, 81.8% of the population spoke French most often at home, a decrease from 83.1% in 2001. About 10.6% spoke English most often at home, virtually unchanged from 2001. The remaining 7.6% spoke a language other than English or French most often at home, an increase from 6.5% in 2001. Again, this was mainly the result of immigration.

Mobility and migration

Statistics Canada makes available today several tables containing 2006 Census data on mobility and migration. These tables provide an overview of mobility in Canada between 2001 and 2006 by age, sex, marital status and mother tongue.

A short analysis on mobility and migration can be found in the analytical document The Evolving Linguistic Portrait, 2006 Census, released today. This analysis focuses on, among other things, interprovincial mobility of the main language groups (i.e., anglophones, francophones and allophones).

An in-depth analysis on mobility and migration in Canada will be part of a report to be released in June 2008 in the publication Report on the Demographic Situation in Canada (Catalogue no. 91-209-XWE). This analysis will take into account socio-economic variables such as occupation, education and income. These census variables, to be released in the coming months, will shed significant additional light on the nature of mobility in Canada.

Users interested in the most recent trends in interprovincial migration can refer to the last release of the population estimates, available in The Daily of September 27, 2007 or in Quarterly Demographic Estimates (Catalogue no. 91-002) available from the Publications module of our website.

For more information or to enquire about the concepts, methods, or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-866-767-5611; 613-951-2320; fax: 613-951-2307;, Demography Division.

2006 Census sub-module

Also released today are various products and services available from the 2006 Census sub-module on our website. By clicking on the Release topics and dates link, then on Immigration and citizenship, Language, or Mobility and migration, users will find 2006 Census information on the immigration, citizenship, language, and mobility and migration of the Canadian population.

The information on this web page is organized into three broad categories: Data products, Analysis series, and Geography.

The Data products category presents the immigration, citizenship, language, mobility and migration data for a wide range of standard geographic areas.

Data are available through the Immigration and citizenship highlight tables, the Language highlight tables, the Topic-based tabulations, the Profile release components, the 2006 Community Profiles and the Census tract (CT) profiles. As well, the new Census Trends product (phase 1 released today), presents a series of summary data trends spanning the 2006, 2001 and 1996 censuses. The product is designed to facilitate the analysis and comparison of the changing demographic and socio-economic composition of selected geographic areas across Canada. The second set of summary data trends (phase 2) will be released on May 1, 2008. The product, in total, will include approximately 85 key data indicators.

The Analysis series category presents the language analytical perspective report The Evolving Linguistic Portrait, 2006 Census, and the immigration and citizenship analytical perspective report Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-born Population, 2006 Census.

The Geography category presents thematic maps containing language, immigration and citizenship data for standard geographic areas in Canada.

By using GeoSearch2006, an interactive mapping tool, users can find any area in Canada, as well as a corresponding map of the area with its population count. A large collection of supplementary geography reference material and maps is also available.

The next release of data from the 2006 Census, scheduled for January 15, 2008, will provide information on Aboriginal peoples. Three more major census data releases are scheduled through to May 2008.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3901.

For more information, please contact Media Relations (613-951-4636), Communications and Library Services Division.