Issue 17-135 2016 Census: Highlights from the Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity in Canada Release

October 25, 2017

Statistics Canada has released a new set of Census results. This release focuses on different aspects of immigration and ethnic diversity in Canada.

The next release is November 29th, 2017 and will profile census data on education, labour and work related statistics, and mobility and migration.

Immigrant population in B.C.

Almost 1.3 million or 28.3% of British Columbians are immigrants. Of those, around 100,000 are non‑permanent residents. Of all immigrants in B.C., 86.4% immigrated on or before 2010, while about 13.6% (3.8% of the total population) are recent immigrants (those that immigrated between 2011 and 2016). 

Immigrants are located across the province; however, the concentration of immigrant populations varies greatly in different regions, cities and towns. Among Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs) in B.C., Vancouver has the highest percentage of immigrants among its population at 40.8%, of which 14.4% are recent immigrants (5.9% of Vancouver’s population). This is a much higher share of immigrant population compared to the rest of the province. Abbotsford-Mission has the second largest share of immigrant population among CMAs and CAs at 24.8%, while 3.3% of the population are recent immigrants. The lowest share of immigrants in the province is in the city of Quesnel (7.5%).

The northern cities of Dawson Creek and Fort St. John have the largest shares of recent immigrants behind Vancouver (4.0% and 3.4% of the population respectively). Meanwhile, Port Alberni has the lowest share of recent immigrants (0.5%) among its population.

As at 2016, the majority of immigrants in B.C. were admitted under economic categories (56.3%), while 33.8% were sponsored by families and 8.6% were admitted as refugees.

The majority of immigrants in B.C. were born in Asia (61.0%), with Europe being the second most common place of birth (24.7%). China, India, the United Kingdom and the Philippines are the main countries of birth of immigrants in B.C. With the exception of the United Kingdom, those are also the main countries of birth of recent immigrants. Not surprisingly, Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi and Tagalog (Filipino) are the most common non-official languages spoken at home.

In 2016, 31.3% of British Columbians were foreign-born, while 22.9% had at least one foreign-born parent.

Visible minorities in B.C.

In 2016, around three in every ten British Columbians were a visible minority (30.3%), up slightly from 2011 (27.3%).

As Vancouver and Abbotsford-Mission have the highest shares of immigrants, it would be expected that they would also have the largest shares of visible minorities among their respective populations. This is indeed the case, as almost half of the population in Vancouver and around 29% of the population in Abbotsford-Mission, belong to a visible minority.

National Highlights

According to the newly released 2016 Census data, 21.9% of the population reported they had immigrated to Canada, similar to the 22.3% reported in the 1921 Census, the highest proportion since Confederation. Recent immigrants represented about 3.5% of the Canadian population.

The majority of recent immigrants were admitted under the economic category (60.3%), 26.8% were sponsored by a family member, and 11.6% immigrated as refugees.

Asia (including the Middle East) is the top source of recent immigrants (61.8%). However, for the first time, Africa is the second largest place of origin of recent immigrants (13.4%) ahead of Europe (11.6%).

Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal are the place of residence of over half of all immigrants and recent immigrants to Canada. The largest share of immigrants and recent immigrants reside in Ontario. In 2016, Ontario received 39.0% of recent immigrants, however, that share is down from 55.9% in 2001. The Prairie Provinces have become a more important destination for new immigrants. The percentage of new immigrants between 2001 and 2016 has grown greatly in the Prairies, with Alberta rising from 6.9% in 2001 to 17.1% in 2016, Manitoba rising from 1.8% to 5.2%, and Saskatchewan growing from just under 1.0% to 4.0% in the same period.

In 2016, 22.3% of the population belonged to a visible minority, up from only 4.7% in 1981.

Data Source: Statistics Canada, Census 2016.