Census Snapshot – Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-born Population, 2006 Census
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As part of its contribution to dissemination of Census findings, Canadian Social Trends is highlighting some of the key social trends observed in the 2006 Census of Population. In this issue, we present a brief adaptation of Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-born Population, 2006 Census (Catalogue no. 97-557).
Immigration: Driver of population growth
Immigrants came from many countries
Linguistic diversity of the immigrant population
Most immigrants reported knowledge of English and/or French
Higher proportion of recent immigrants in the younger age groups
Immigrants in the provinces and territories
Vast majority of immigrants chose city life
Three largest centres attracted 7 out of every 10 newcomers
Newcomers in suburbs
Most immigrants held Canadian citizenship
Portraits of major metropolitan centres
Halifax: Largest foreign-born population in Atlantic provinces
Montréal: The third-largest foreign-born population
Ottawa - Gatineau: Fifth-largest proportion of foreign-born
Toronto: Canada's major immigrant gateway
More than 1 million foreign-born in the City of Toronto
Hamilton: Almost one in four foreign-born
Winnipeg: Philippines the number one source country of recent immigrants
Edmonton: Attracted a larger share of newcomers in 2006
Calgary: Foreign-born population growing faster than the Canadian-born population
Vancouver: Canada's immigrant gateway in the West
City of Vancouver received the highest number of newcomers
New data from the 2006 Census show that the proportion of Canada's population who were born outside the country reached its highest level in 75 years. The census enumerated 6,186,950 foreign-born in Canada in 2006. They represented virtually one in five (19.8%) of the total population, the highest proportion since 1931.
Overall, Canada's total population increased by 1.6 million between 2001 and 2006, a growth rate of 5.4%. Newcomers who arrived in the country between January 1, 2001 and May 16, 2006 were responsible for 69.3% of this population growth.
Among the more than 1.1 million recent immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006, 58.3% were born in Asian countries, including the Middle East.
Fully 14% of recent immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006 came from the People's Republic of China (PRC). The PRC was followed by India (11.6% of new immigrants), the Philippines (7%) and Pakistan (5.2%), just as in 2001. In addition, South Korea accounted for 3.2% of newcomers and Iran for 2.5%.
Immigrants from Europe accounted for 16.1% of recent immigrants, with the two most common source countries being Romania and the United Kingdom. Formerly, most European newcomers came from the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal.
Recent immigrants from Central and South America and the Caribbean accounted for 10.8% of all newcomers, up slightly from 8.9% in 2001. Colombia and Mexico were the two leading source countries of recent immigrants from that region. As well, there was a slight increase in the share of recent immigrants from Africa – nearly 10.6% compared with less than 10% in earlier years.
In 2006, nearly 150 languages were reported as a mother tongue among the foreign-born population. (Mother tongue is defined as the first language a person has learned at home in childhood and still understands at the time of the census.)
The 2006 Census showed that 70.2% of the foreign-born population had a mother tongue other than English or French, up from 67.5% in 2001. The linguistic profile of these immigrants reflected the leading source countries of immigrants to Canada from different waves.
Of the foreign-born who reported mother tongue(s) other than English or French, the largest proportion (18.6%) reported Chinese, including the various dialects, such as Cantonese and Mandarin. It was followed by Italian (6.6%), Punjabi (5.9%), Spanish (5.8%), German (5.4%), Tagalog (4.8%) and Arabic (4.7%).
The overwhelming majority of newcomers (90.7%) reported that they could converse in English and/or French. Furthermore, use of English and/or French increased as immigrants lived in Canada longer. Among the foreign-born population who came before 1961 and had a mother tongue other than English or French, a majority (70.2%) reported speaking an official language most often at home in 2006. In contrast, the majority (74.4%) of newcomers who did not have English or French mother tongue spoke a non-official language most often at home.
People tend to migrate while they are young. As a result, the immigrants who arrived in Canada since 2001 were over-represented in the younger age brackets.
In 2006, 57.3% of recent immigrants were in the prime-working age group of 25 to 54, compared with only 42.3% of the Canadian-born population. Together, recent immigrants to Canada accounted for 3.9% of the population in this age group.
Children aged 14 and under accounted for one in five recent immigrants to Canada, and youth aged 15 to 24 for 15.1%. Both these proportions are similar to those of the Canadian-born population.
At the other end of the age spectrum, only 3.4% of immigrants who came to Canada in the period 2001-2006 were aged 65 and over, versus 11.5% of the Canadian-born.
Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia received 85.8% of the newcomers who arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2006. Ontario took in 52.3% of the recent immigrants, British Columbia 16% and Quebec 17.5% of recent immigrants.
The Atlantic region attracted a slightly larger share of recent immigrants who came to Canada between 2001 and 2006. During this period, an estimated 13,500 recent immigrants settled in the Atlantic region, or 1.2% of the 1.1 million newcomers who arrived in Canada in the last five years. During the previous five-year period of 1996 and 2001, 1% of newcomers settled in Atlantic Canada.
The United States was the top source country of newcomers to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The United Kingdom was the top source country for Newfoundland and Labrador.
The 2006 Census enumerated a total of 851,600 foreign-born residents in Quebec, an increase of 20.5% from 2001. This was higher than the 13.6% growth rate in the foreign-born population for the entire country during this period.
People born outside Canada accounted for 11.5% of Quebec's total population in 2006, the highest proportion ever in the province's history. Most of Quebec's foreign-born chose to live in the CMA of Montréal (86.9%). It was followed by the CMA of Québec (3.1%), the Quebec portion of Ottawa Gatineau (2.7%) and Sherbrooke (1.2%).
Ontario continued to be the province of choice for more than half (52.3%) of the 1.1 million newcomers who arrived in Canada during the past five years. In total, the census enumerated 3,398,700 foreign-born individuals, who represented 28.3% of the province's population, the highest proportion in Ontario's history.
Most foreign-born Ontario residents lived in the CMA of Toronto (68.3%). Significant proportions of the province's foreign-born population also lived in the Ontario part of Ottawa - Gatineau (5.3%), Hamilton (4.9%), Kitchener (3%), London (2.6%) and Windsor (2.2%).
A growing share of recent immigrants chose to settle in both Alberta and Manitoba during the past five years. About 9.3%, or 103,700, of the new immigrants who came to Canada settled in Alberta.
Similarly, an estimated 31,200 newcomers settled in Manitoba, about 2.8% of the total recent immigrants. The situation in Saskatchewan was relatively unchanged from the last census.
About 16%, or 177,800, of the 1.1 million newest immigrants who came to Canada during the past five years settled in British Columbia. They accounted for 27.5% of the province's population, up from 26.1% in 2001.
Only about 1,000 newcomers, about 0.1% of all recent immigrants entering Canada, chose to settle in the territories. The Philippines was the leading source country, accounting for 24.5% of these recent arrivals.
Unlike immigrants who arrived years ago in search of good farmland to till, today's immigrants are mostly urban dwellers. In fact, they are much more likely to live in a metropolitan area than the Canadian-born population.
In 2006, 94.9% of Canada's foreign-born population and 97.2% of recent immigrants lived in either a census metropolitan area or a census agglomeration, i.e., urban community. This compares with 77.5% of the Canadian-born population.
Canada's three largest CMAs — Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver — were home to 3,891,800 foreign-born people in 2006, or 62.9% of Canada's total foreign-born population. In contrast, these three urban areas were home to slightly more than one-quarter (27.1%) of the Canadian-born population.
Toronto and Vancouver led major cities in Australia and the United States in terms of the proportion of their population born outside the country. Toronto's and Vancouver's closest competitors were Miami (36.5% of the city's population was foreign-born) and Los Angeles (34.7%).
Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver attracted 68.9% (765,000) of the new immigrants who came between 2001 and 2006. Another 28.3% spread across the remaining urban areas, while only 2.8% chose to live in a rural area.
Toronto's share of the total recent immigrants was about 40.4%, a decline from 43.1% in 2001;Vancouver's share decreased from 17.6% to 13.7%; while Montréal rose from third to second most popular destination, attracting 14.9% of recent immigrants in 2006, compared with 11.9% in 2001.
The reasons newcomers choose to settle in Canada's three largest CMAs vary, according to the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada, but the most common reason was to join the social support networks of family and friends. Other reasons included job prospects (Toronto), language (Montreal), and climate (Vancouver).
As the proportion of new immigrants who have settled in Toronto and Vancouver has declined over time, an increasing share of newcomers chooses to live in other CMAs.
Calgary ranked fourth in 2006 in its share of recent immigrants. About 57,900 newcomers, or 5.2% of individuals who arrived in Canada in the last five years, settled in Calgary, an increase from 3.8% in 2001.
Gains were also recorded in Edmonton, which received 2.9% of all newcomers between 2001 and 2006, Winnipeg (2.2%) and London (1.2%).
Hamilton's share of newcomers remained unchanged at 1.9%, while Ottawa – Gatineau showed a slight decline to 3.2%.
The impact of immigration on the three largest CMAs varied because the newcomers were more likely to live in certain municipalities within these metropolitan areas.
In Toronto, newcomers to Canada were largely responsible for the growth in the municipalities surrounding the City of Toronto. For example, Mississauga took in 16.7% of newcomers to the Toronto CMA, Brampton 9.6% and Vaughan 2.5%.
In Vancouver, 46% of the CMA's recent immigrants lived in the three municipalities of Richmond, Burnaby and Surrey. Only 28.7% of newcomers lived in the central municipality of the City of Vancouver.
In Montréal, 76.3% of the newcomers lived in the City of Montréal. But there was an increase in the number of newcomers settling in surrounding municipalities such as Laval, Longueuil, Brossard, Dollard-des-Ormeaux and Côte-Saint-Luc. Collectively, these surrounding municipalities received 15% of newcomers in 2006, compared with 11.2% in 2001.
To be eligible for Canadian citizenship, immigrants must meet several requirements, including at least three years of residency in Canada and knowledge of an official language. They may also be required to take a knowledge test.
In 2006, 85.1% of eligible foreign-born people were Canadian citizens, a slight increase from 83.9% in 2001.
Those who had been in Canada the longest were the most likely to hold Canadian citizenship. The vast majority of those who arrived before 1961 (94.1%) or in the 1960s and 1970s (89.1%) had become naturalized citizens. The proportion of naturalized citizens was lower (84.1%) among those who arrived in the 1990s.
Since 1977, immigrants who obtain Canadian citizenship also have the right to retain their previous citizenship. However, in 2006, just 2.8% of the population, about 863,100 people, reported having Canadian citizenship in addition to other citizenship.
Most (80.2%) of those who had multiple citizenship were foreign-born people, with the largest proportion reporting citizenship of the United Kingdom (14.7%), Poland (6.6%) and the United States (5.4%).
Settlement patterns show that immigrants choose to live in major urban centres to take advantage of the established immigrant communities, economic opportunities and social ties. As a result, recent immigrants have contributed to the changing portraits of urban communities.
Halifax was home to the largest foreign-born population in the Atlantic provinces. The 2006 Census counted 27,400 foreign-born people living in the census metropolitan area of Halifax, and represented 60.7% of all Nova Scotians born outside Canada.
Halifax received 5,100 new immigrants, or 0.5% of all newcomers to Canada in 2006, who made up 18.4% of the foreign-born population in the CMA. Slightly more than half (51.4%) were born in Asia and the Middle East.
Montréal was home to the third-largest foreign-born population in Canada, having 740,400 foreign-born residents who accounted for 12% of the country's total foreign-born population.
Of the 1.1 million recent immigrants to Canada, 14.9% chose to settle in Montréal. In fact, Montréal's share of recent immigration to Canada is greater than its share of Canada's total population (11.5%).
About two-thirds (64.6%) of newcomers were aged 25 to 54, compared with 43.3% of its Canadian-born residents. Recent immigrants made up 6.5% of the working-age population in Montréal.
New immigrants who settle in the Montréal CMA come from every part of the world, especially francophone countries. Asia, including the Middle East, was the leading source of recent immigrants, as 31% of the new immigrants living in Montréal were from that part of the world.
Montréal CMA was home to 60% of all newcomers to Canada who reported French as their only mother tongue. Moreover, six of the 10 leading birthplaces of new immigrants to Montréal are countries where French is spoken: Algeria (8.7%), Morocco (7.6%), Romania (7.2%), France (6.3%), Haiti (5.2%) and Lebanon (3.2%).
More African-born recent immigrants settled in Montréal than in other CMAs, at 37% compared with 22.1% in Toronto and 4.1% in Vancouver. African immigrants made up 26% of Montréal's newcomers, which made Africa the second-largest source of recent immigration to Montréal.
There are still European immigrants in Montréal, representing 22.5% of Montréal's total recent immigrant population in 2006. France was still a major country of birth among immigrants to Montréal (more than 10,400 newcomers) although increasing numbers of recent immigrants are from East European countries such as Romania (12,000) and Bulgaria (2,900).
In 2006, one in five newcomers were born in the Americas, most from Haiti, Colombia, Mexico and the United States.
In 2006, 76.3%, or 126,200 individuals, of recent immigrants to the CMA of Montréal were living in the City of Montréal.
While 75.2% of the recent immigrants had a mother tongue other than English or French, 94.4% reported that they were able to carry on a conversation in English or French.
The 2006 Census enumerated 202,700 foreign-born people in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Ottawa - Gatineau, an increase from 185,100 in 2001 and a growth rate of 9.5%.
Since 2001, 35,100 recent immigrants had arrived in Ottawa-Gatineau, representing 3.1% of the total population in the CMA. The Quebec part of the CMA (Gatineau) received 15.2% (representing 5,300 individuals) of new immigrants who came within the last five years. Conversely, on the Ontario side of the CMA (Ottawa), the share of new immigrants dropped from 90.1% of all newcomers in 2001 to 84.8% in 2006.
Ottawa - Gatineau ranked fifth in having the largest proportion of foreign-born people (3.3%) and new immigrants (3.2%) in 2006. The People's Republic of China (12.7%), India (4.6%) and the United States (4.3%) were the top three countries of birth among the new immigrants in Ottawa - Gatineau.
The census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto is still the major gateway for immigrants in Canada. The census enumerated 2,320,200 foreign-born people in Toronto in 2006, the largest number of any metropolitan area in the nation.
The foreign-born population accounted for 45.7% of the CMA's total population of 5,072,100, up from 43.7% in 2001. Between 2001 and 2006, the foreign-born population grew by 14.1%, compared to 4.6% for the Canadian-born population.
More foreign-born people settled in the Toronto CMA between 2001 and 2006 than in any other metropolitan area. An estimated 447,900, or 40.4% of foreign-born people who arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2006, chose Toronto. These new immigrants made up 8.8% of Toronto's total population in 2006.
The top two source countries for recent immigrants to Toronto were Asian, with India surpassing the People's Republic of China as the number one source country.
The new arrivals had a major impact on the metropolitan area's workforce. Over one-half (56.6%) were in their prime working years, aged 25 to 54, and they made up 10.8% of CMA residents in this age group.
Of school-aged children between ages 5 and 16, recent immigrants made up 10.5%. Among these school-aged children, 54.9% reported speaking a non-official language most often at home.
The City of Toronto was home to the largest number of foreign-born people in 2006. However, most of the growth in the foreign-born population occurred in the municipalities surrounding the city.
For example, Brampton's foreign-born population increased by 59.5% from 2001 to 2006, and Markham's by 34.1%. Ajax, Aurora and Vaughan also saw increases of more than 40% in the foreign-born population
An estimated 267,900 recent immigrants settled in the City of Toronto, accounting for 21.6% of the total foreign-born population living in the city in 2006.
More than two-thirds (68.5%) of newcomers were born in Asian countries, with the top five source countries being the People's Republic of China, India, the Philippines, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Chinese, including the different dialects, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, was reported by 17.3% of newcomers as the language most often spoken at home. Another 4.8% of newcomers spoke Urdu most often at home.
Among the newcomers in the City of Toronto, about 1 in 10 reported that they did not have knowledge of either English or French.
In 2006, 56.5% of the population in Markham was foreign-born. A total of 18,900 newcomers chose to live in Markham, and represented 7.2% residents of the 2006 population. The vast majority (84.3%) of newcomers were born in Asia and the Middle East. Fully 8% of school-aged children 5 to 16 years in Markham were recent immigrants to Canada. About one-quarter of them reported Chinese as the language spoken most often at home.
In Mississauga, the proportion of the foreign-born population increased from 46.8% in 2001 to 51.6% in 2006. The top five countries of birth of recent immigrants there were India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the People's Republic of China and South Korea. This pattern of migration is reflected in the diversity of the communities in Mississauga.
Between 2001 and 2006, a total of 42,900 immigrants settled in Brampton, making the municipality home to 9.6% of all newcomers to the Toronto metropolitan area. Two-thirds of all recent immigrants there came from just three countries: India, Pakistan and the Philippines. Jamaica and Nigeria were also among the top source countries for newcomers to Brampton. About 3 in 10 said that they spoke Punjabi most often at home. The use of Punjabi reflects the high number of recent immigrants from India and Pakistan who settled in Brampton.
Following Toronto and Vancouver CMAs, Hamilton's foreign-born population of 24.4% was the third highest in 2006 in Canada. This was up from 23.6% in 2001.
Between 2001 and 2006, the foreign-born population increased by 7.7%, while the total population of the Hamilton CMA grew by 4.3%.
The share of Canada's recent immigrants who settle in Hamilton has remained unchanged since 2001 at 1.9%. Hamilton was home to 20,800 immigrants who arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2006. One-half of them were born in Asia and the Middle East, while 23% were from Europe.
The foreign-born population in Winnipeg grew by 10.5% between 2001 and 2006. As of 2006, the foreign-born population numbered 121,300, or 17.7% of the total population for the CMA.
About 1 in 5 foreign-born residents of Winnipeg were recent immigrants, predominantly born in Asia and the Middle East. The Philippines was the leading source country, with nearly 3 out of every 10 newcomers, while India and the People's Republic of China were also among the leading source countries of recent immigrants.
The foreign-born population in Edmonton grew by 14.9% between 2001 and 2006, outpacing the total growth of the CMA (10.6%) and the national growth rate of the foreign-born population (13.6%).
In total, the 2006 Census enumerated 31,900 newcomers, with almost all (92.6%) residing in the City of Edmonton. Almost two-thirds (62.1%) of recent immigrants were born in Asia and the Middle East. The Philippines (13.4% of newcomers), India (13%) and the People's Republic of China (12.2%) were the leading source countries.
Calgary has experienced high population growth in the last several years, and in 2006, there were an estimated 252,800 foreign-born residents in the CMA. With an increase of 28% between 2001 and 2006, growth in Calgary's foreign-born population was one of the fastest in the country.
An estimated 57,900 recent immigrants settled in Calgary, making up 5.4% of the city's total population in 2006. They had a significant impact on the local workforce, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the growth in the working-aged population (25 to 54 years old). Meanwhile, recent immigrant children made up 7.2% of all school-aged children in the CMA.
Recent immigrants living in Calgary came from all around the world, but the People's Republic of China, India and the Philippines were the top three source countries of recent immigrants. About two-thirds (63.5%) of newcomers spoke a non-official language most often at home.
The population of foreign-born people in the CMA of Vancouver increased five times faster than its Canadian-born population between 2001 and 2006, at 12.6% and 2.3%, respectively.
The Census counted 831,300 foreign-born people in the Vancouver CMA, up about 92,700 from 2001. These residents accounted for 39.6% of the CMA's total population
However, the number of recent immigrants who chose to settle in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Vancouver has declined for two consecutive censuses, unlike Toronto and Montréal, which both recorded increases. The main factor in the decline was a slowdown in immigration from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which had been the source of many newcomers in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Most of the 151,700 immigrants who arrived in Vancouver during the past five years were born in Asia and the Middle East. Over one-quarter (26.2%) came from the People's Republic of China, and 12.4% from India, 10.9% from the Philippines, 7.7% from South Korea and 4.6% from Taiwan.
A high proportion of recent arrivals (57.2%) were in their prime working years, aged 25 to 54, and made up 8.9% of Vancouver's prime working-age population. In addition, about 27,600 children aged 5 to 16 were new to Canada. These young recent immigrants represented 9.3% of Vancouver's school-aged population.
Being the biggest municipality in the CMA of Vancouver, the City of Vancouver had the biggest population of both longer-term and recently arrived foreign-born people of all the municipalities in the metropolitan area.
The foreign-born accounted for 45.6%, or 260,800 persons, of the city's total population. About 7.6% of this population was made up of newcomers to Canada.
Between 2001 and 2006, the City of Vancouver's foreign-born population grew by 5.3%. People born in the People's Republic of China made up 36.1% of recent immigrants. The other leading source countries were the Philippines (12.2%), India (4.8%), Taiwan (4.2%) and South Korea (4%).
In the municipality of Richmond, foreign-born people outnumbered the Canadian-born, accounting for 57.4% of residents. In fact, Richmond had the highest proportion of foreign-born of all Canada's municipalities.
About 1 in 10 (10.8%) of Richmond's population were newcomers who had arrived in Canada within the last five years. Among these 18,800 recent immigrants, fully one-half were born in the People's Republic of China. Other prominent source countries were the Philippines (14.2%), Taiwan (7.4%), the Hong Kong Special Administration Area (4.7%) and India (4.3%). Chinese dialects such as Mandarin and Cantonese were the languages spoken most often at home by the largest share of recent immigrants living in Richmond.
The immigration trend in the municipality of Burnaby was similar to that of its neighbour, Richmond. The 2006 Census counted 102,000 foreign-born residents in Burnaby, who accounted for 50.8% of its population.
About 1 in 10 (10.8%) of Burnaby's residents were newcomers who had arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2006. Collectively, 64.4% of all newcomers to Burnaby came from the People's Republic of China, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and India.
In Surrey, 38.3% of the total population of 392,500 was foreign-born. Although this proportion was the lowest of the four big municipalities in the Vancouver CMA, Surrey actually recorded the highest growth rate for the foreign-born population, at 30.9%.
Overall, recent immigrants made up 7.4% of Surrey's total population. India was the top source country (41.9% of all foreign-born newcomers). Another 33.9% of recent immigrants came from the Philippines, South Korea, the People's Republic of China, Pakistan and Fiji.
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