For information about the 2001 Census please see Hungarians in Canada
New data from the 2006 Census show that the proportion of Canada's population born outside the country has reached its highest level in 75 years.
Statistics Canada numbers indicate that Canada's foreign-born population increased by 13.6% between 2001 and 2006 - four times higher than the Canadian-born population, which grew by 3.3% during the same period.
The Census enumerated 6,186,950 foreign-born in Canada, representing 19.8% of the total population, the highest proportion since 1931, when 22.2% of the population was foreign-born.
In 2001, foreign-born residents represented 18.4% of the population.
At nearly 20%, Canada had a higher proportion of foreign-born residents than the United States (12.5%) but lower than Australia (22.2%).
The census estimated that 1,110,000 immigrants came to Canada between Jan. 1, 2001 and May 16, 2006. These newcomers made up 17.9% of the total foreign-born population, and 3.6% of Canada's 31.2 million total population.
Recent immigrants born in Asia, including the Middle East, made up the largest proportion of newcomers in 2006 at 58.3%. This proportion 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, including the Middle East.
Newcomers born in Europe made up the second-largest group (16.1%) of recent immigrants in 2006. Europe used to be the main source region of immigrants, accounting for more than 61% of newcomers in the early 1970s.
An estimated 10.8% of recent immigrants were born in Central and South America and the Caribbean, up from 8.9% in 2001. Another 10.6% of newcomers to Canada in 2006 were born in Africa, also up 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. Among these individuals, the largest proportion, one in five (18.6%), reported Chinese languages, followed by Italian (6.6%), Punjabi (5.9%), Spanish (5.8%), German (5.4%), Tagalog (4.8%) and Arabic (4.7%).
Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver were home to 68.9% of the recent immigrants in 2006. In contrast, slightly over one-third (34.4%) of Canada's total population lived in these three census metropolitan areas.
There were some signs that recent immigrants are choosing to settle in smaller metropolitan areas. Individually, 5.2% of recent immigrants had settled in Calgary, 2.9% chose Edmonton and 2.2% chose Winnipeg. These were all increases from 2001. Another 3.2% of recent immigrants had settled in Ottawa - Gatineau, a slight decline from 4% in 2001.
The majority (85.1%) of the foreign-born who were eligible for Canadian citizenship in 2006 had become naturalized.
Here are some additional highlights from the 2006 Census:
- Overall, Canada's total population increased by 1.6 million between 2001 and 2006, a growth rate of 5.4% from 2001;
- Canada has been the country of choice for many immigrants. Asked about their immigration decision, virtually all newcomers (98%) in the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada reported that they did not have any other country in mind when they put in their application to come to Canada. They also reported positive impressions of their move. Asked why they came to Canada, the largest proportion cited improving the future for their family and reuniting with family and close friends.
- The People's Republic of China was again the leading source country of newcomers to Canada. Fully 14% of recent immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006 came from the People's Republic of China, followed by India, representing 11.6% of new immigrants, the Philippines (7%) and Pakistan (5.2%) — the same order as in 2001. These four Asian countries alone accounted for 37.8% of all newcomers in 2006.
- Although the number of immigrants from Europe has declined over the years, they still made up the second-largest group of newcomers. In 2006, they accounted for 16.1% of recent immigrants, well below the proportion of 61.6% for European-born newcomers in 1971.
- The two most common European countries of origin for newcomers in 2006 were Romania and the United Kingdom. This represented a change over the decades among European-born immigrants. Formerly, most newcomers came from the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal.
- The third-largest group of recent immigrants in 2006 was from Central and South America and the Caribbean. They 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. They accounted for 2.3% and 1.5%, respectively, of all recent arrivals during the previous five years.
- The 2006 Census found a slight increase in the share of recent immigrants from Africa. In the past, newcomers from Africa had accounted for less than 10% of recent immigrants. According to the 2006 Census, this share has risen to nearly 10.6%. The two leading source countries in Africa were Algeria, which accounted for 1.5% of all newcomers and Morocco, 1.3%.
Linguistic diversity of the immigrant population
Immigration has contributed to linguistic diversity in Canada. 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.)
- English was the largest language group. About one-fourth of Canada's foreign-born population of 6.2 million said that English alone was the language they learned during childhood and still understood.
- A small share (3.1%) of the foreign-born population reported French as their only mother tongue. However, the share was much higher in Quebec, where 17.5% of the foreign-born population in the province reported French as their only mother tongue.
- 70.2% of the foreign-born population had a mother tongue other than English or French, an increase from 67.5% in 2001.
- Of the foreign-born who reported mother tongues other than English or French, the largest proportion, one in five (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%).
Most immigrants of prime working age
- In 2006, 57.3% of immigrants who came to Canada in the last five years were in the prime-working age group of 25 to 54. In contrast, only 42.3% of the Canadian-born population was in this age group.
- Only 4.1% of newcomers were in the older working-age group of 55 to 64. In comparison, slightly more than one in 10 (10.7%) of the Canadian-born were in this pre-retirement age bracket.
- Together, recent immigrants to Canada added about 681,900 individuals to the working-age population of 25 to 64. They accounted for 3.9% of the population in this age group.
- About 223,200 newcomers were children aged 14 and under. They represented one in five of the recent immigrants to Canada. This proportion is about the same (21%) as the one for Canadian-born children of the same age group.
- Another 167,600 newcomers to Canada, or 15.1%, were youth aged 15 to 24. and again, this proportion is similar (14.4%) to the one for Canadian-born youth.
- At the other end of the age spectrum, 3.4% of immigrants who came to Canada in the last five years were aged 65 and over. In contrast, 11.5% of the Canadian-born were in this older age group.
Ontario, Quebec and B.C. most popular for newcomers
- The majority of the foreign-born population (86.8%) lived in three provinces: Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. As well, the three provinces received 85.8% of newcomers who arrived in Canada since 2001.
- In 2006, 38.5% of the total population in Canada lived in Ontario, but the province took in more than one-half (54.9%) of the foreign-born population and one-half (52.3%) of the recent immigrants. British Columbia was home to 13% of the total Canadian population, compared to 18.1% of the foreign-born population and 16% of newcomers. Historically, Quebec has had a smaller share of the foreign-born than its total population share. This was still the case in 2006. Quebec had close to one-quarter (23.8%) of the country's population. In contrast, the province was home to 13.8% of the foreign-born population and 17.5% of recent immigrants.
- The census counted an estimated 84,800 foreign-born people in the four Atlantic provinces combined. This was an increase of 8,800 immigrants from 2001, and a growth rate of 11.6%. Foreign-born individuals made up only 3.8% of Atlantic Canada's total population.
- 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 territories were home to 0.3% of Canada's total population. An even smaller share of recent immigrants lived in the North (0.1%). Only about 6,300 foreign-born individuals resided in the territories. They represented only 0.1% of the total foreign-born population in the country and 6.2% of the population in the North.
Vast majority of immigrants chose city life
- In 2006, 94.9% of Canada's foreign-born population and 97.2% of recent immigrants who landed in the last five years lived in either a census metropolitan area or a census agglomeration urban community. This compares with 77.5% of the Canadian-born population.
- 5.1% of the immigrant population lived in a rural area in 2006, compared with 22.5% of the Canadian-born population.
- Canada's three largest census metropolitan areas — Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver — were home to 3,891,800 foreign-born people in 2006, which made up nearly two-thirds (62.9%) of Canada's total foreign-born population. As a result, immigration has been the major factor in the population growth of these three census metropolitan areas.
- In 2006, 28.3% of newcomers resided in a metropolitan area other than Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver, up from 24.7% in 2001. For example, six other census metropolitan areas combined — Calgary, Ottawa - Gatineau, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton and London — attracted 16.6% of all newcomers during the past five years. In 2001, these centres took in 14.3% of all newcomers.
- The vast majority of foreign-born people who were eligible for Canadian citizenship chose to become Canadian. In 2006, 85.1% of eligible foreign-born people were Canadian citizens, a slight increase from 83.9% in 2001.
Randy Ray is an Ottawa freelance writer and publicist - http://randyray.ca/.