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Over one fifth of Canadians are immigrants

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Over 20% of Canadians were born in other countries and have become Canadians by naturalisation, a national survey shows. This makes Canada the country with the highest proportion of immigrant citizens on earth. The National Household Survey was completed in 2011 by around 74% of the Canadian population. About 6.3m people out of Canada's population of about 33,000,000 were born citizens of other countries.

The survey also shows that mass immigration has changed the ethnic makeup of Canada hugely in the last two decades. Whereas, in the 1960s, most immigration to Canada came from Europe, now, 82.4% of immigrants are non-European. Immigrants are reported to have arrived in Canada from 200 countries. 6.3m Canadians, 19% of the population, now say that they come from 'a visible ethnic minority'. The three largest ethnic minority groups are south Asians, Chinese and black.

The survey found that 1.2m migrants settled in Canada between 2006 and 2011 and that over half of these, (56.9%) came from Asia, including the Middle East. During the 1970s, only 8.5% of Canadian immigrants came from Asia. Between 2006 and 2011, 13.1% of immigrants or 152,300 people came from the Philippines alone. 10.5% (122,100) came from China and 10.4% (121,400) came from India.

More migrants from Philippines than from Europe in 2006-2011

13.7% of the migrants arriving between 2006 and 2011 came from the entirety of Europe, only just more than the number coming from the Philippines. In the 1970s, 75% of immigrants were Europeans. 12.1% of immigrants over the five year period between 2006 and 2011 came from Africa.

Respondents were asked to record their ethnicity and these responses showed that Canada is extremely ethnically diverse. 200 different ethnicities were given by respondents. The survey suggests that there are over 1m Canadians belonging to 13 different ethnic groups. These are:

  • First nations (Aboriginal Canadians such as Inuit and native Americans)
  • Canadian
  • English
  • Scottish
  • Irish
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Chinese
  • Ukrainian
  • East Indian
  • Dutch
  • Polish

Immigrants now settling all over Canada

The survey also showed that fewer new immigrants move to Toronto, the capital and to the province of Ontario than had been the case, although it is still home to 3.6m immigrants, over half of the total. Between 2006 and 2011, 43% of new citizens settled in Ontario and most of these settled in Toronto, Ontario's biggest city. Nearly 50% of Toronto's population was born abroad but the survey shows that new Canadians are also choosing to settle in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and elsewhere.

The National Household Survey was first held in 2011 as a controversial replacement for a census which had been held at regular intervals in Canada since 1825. The Conservative government scrapped the census, which every Canadian household was required to complete by law, with the voluntary Household Survey.

Unlike the census, the National Household Survey was sent to only 4.5m households across Canada. Of the 4.5m questionnaires distributed, 74% (about 3,330,000) were completed. Although this makes the figures less reliable than census data, the survey nonetheless provides a very detailed picture of the nation's makeup. is a specialist visa consultancy with nearly twenty-five years of experience dealing with visa applications. We are OISC registered. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to the UK or your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details.