Canada: Highest foreign-born population in 75 years

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2006 census figures analyzed by Statistics Canada show that one in five people living in Canada are foreign-born, the highest proportion in 75 years.

Between 2001 and 2006, the foreign-born population of Canada increased by 13.6 percent -- four times higher than the growth rate of 3.3 percent for the native-born population during the same period.

According to census figures, an estimated 1,110,000 immigrants arrived in Canada between 01 January 2001 and 16 May 2006. During this time period, these immigrants accounted for 17.9 percent of the total foreign-born population and 3.6 percent of Canada's total population of 31.2 million people.

The largest proportion of immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006 were born in Asia (including the Middle East) at 58.3 percent. In contrast, only 12.1 percent of immigrants for the same duration ending in 1971 were born in Asia.

Immigrants from Europe accounted for the second largest group of recent immigrants at 16.1 percent. For the same duration ending in 1971, Europe was the largest source of immigrants -- accounting for 61.6 percent of newly arrived immigrants.

An estimated 10.8 percent of immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006 were born in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Another 10.6 percent of immigrants to Canada during this same period were born in Africa.

As of 2006, the immigrant population in Canada is estimated at 6,186,950. The United Kingdom is the largest source country by birth at 579,620 people, followed by China (466,940), India (443,690), the Philippines (303,195), and Italy (296,850).

The figures from Statistics Canada also show that 20 percent of the Canadian population is now composed of individuals who do not count English or French as their native language. Chinese languages are now the third most spoken, followed by Italian, German, Punjabi, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, and Portuguese.