Recent Immigrants in Metropolitan Areas: Calgary—A Comparative Profile Based on the 2001 Census


Very recent immigrants—a snapshot

  • Very recent immigrants, those who landed after or on January 1, 1996 and were living in Calgary on May 15, 2001, are quite different in some respects from the groups that preceded them. More of them come from South Asia. Many have university degrees, a higher proportion than among the other immigrant cohorts or among persons born in Canada. Nine in ten reported being able to conduct a conversation in English or French. Thanks to these qualities and a strong labour market, very recent immigrants reported more jobs and higher incomes in the 2001 Census than immigrants who landed in the first half of the 1990s reported in the 1996 Census.

Immigrants and recent immigrants (Part A)

  • In 2001, there were 91,900 recent immigrants in Calgary, 3.7% of all recent immigrants living in Canada. These recent immigrants, who landed after 1985, accounted for slightly less than one-half of immigrants in Calgary and 10% of the population of the metropolitan area. In this document, the term “recent immigrants” refers to immigrants who became permanent residents or “landed” after 1985 and who were living in the country on May 15, 2001, when Canada’s Census of Population was held. Very recent immigrants are immigrants who landed after 1995.
  • Four out of five immigrants who landed between 1986 and 1995 had become Canadian citizens by May 2001.

Who are the recent immigrants? (Part B)

  • Recent immigrants to Calgary come from all over the world. Asian origins are prominent among immigrants who landed after 1995. The share of very recent immigrants from China (excluding Hong Kong), the largest source country, is 11%; India is second with 10% of recent immigrants, followed by the Philippines with 9%. Pakistan and South Korea have become more important sources of immigrants to Calgary in the second half of the 1990s.
  • Statistics published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada show that among very recent immigrants, 60% entered as economic immigrants, and 30% entered through the family class.
  • Recent immigrants are changing the religious landscape of Calgary, as Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs are numerous among them. The Muslim share of immigrants has increased most and reached 17% of very recent immigrants.
  • Nearly one-half of very recent immigrants are 25 to 44 years of age. In Calgary’s Canadian-born population, this group accounts for one-third.
  • Nine out of ten very recent immigrants 15 years of age and older reported (in May 2001) that they were able to conduct a conversation in English or French. Six in ten very recent immigrants 15 years of age and older reported using a language in the home other than English or French.
  • The level of education of very recent immigrants in Calgary is high compared to that of the Canadian-born, with three out of four in the 25-44 age group having a post-secondary diploma or degree.

Families and households (Part C)

  • Recent immigrants are more likely than the Canadian-born to live with relatives, and they are twice as likely to live in extended families. Only 8% of very recent immigrants 65 years of age and over live alone, compared to three in ten of their Canadian-born counterparts.
  • Recent immigrant families are more likely than Canadian-born families to have children at home, in particular when the oldest member of the family is 45 years of age or older. There are fewer lone-parent families among recent immigrant families than among Canadian-born families.
  • Households in which at least one adult is a recent immigrant account for 11% of households in Calgary. Two in five of these recent immigrant households have at least one member who immigrated after 1995.
  • Households of recent immigrants are much more likely than Canadian-born households to consist of extended families or more than one family. They also tend to be larger, with close to one-half consisting of four or more persons, compared to one-quarter of Canadian-born households with four or more persons.

Participation in the economy (Part D)

  • The more recent their arrival, the lower the labour force participation rate and the higher the unemployment rate of immigrants. Earlier immigrants participate in the labour force at more or less the same rates as the Canadian-born.
  • This pattern of increasing convergence to the Canadian-born with longer stay in Canada occurs across all age and gender groups and across all but the lowest level of education. The disparities between recent immigrants and the Canadian-born are smaller for men than for women.
  • Lack of knowledge of English is a major barrier to labour force participation. However, it accounts for only a small part of the disparity in labour force participation of very recent immigrants, as lack of knowledge of English is rare.
  • Labour force participation was higher and unemployment lower in 2001 than in 1996. The Canadian-born and all cohorts of immigrants showed gains across the age spectrum. The gains were larger for women than for men and for the young and old compared to the prime labour force age group of 25 to 44 years. Immigrants who landed in the five years before the 2001 Census showed remarkable gains compared to their counterparts in the 1996 Census.
  • In comparison to the Canadian-born, recent immigrants were more likely to be employed in processing and sales and services occupations, in the manufacturing sector and in hospitality and other services. A smaller share of recent immigrants than the Canadian-born held jobs in administrative and management and social occupations, or in construction and transportation, or the public sector. While jobs of recent immigrants require a relatively low level of skill, the very recent cohort held jobs with higher skill requirements than their predecessors did in 1996.

Income (Part E)

  • On average, among persons reporting income for the year 2000, the income of very recent immigrants was about three-fifths the income of the Canadian-born, while those who immigrated during the 1986-1995 period had income close to two-thirds of that of the Canadian-born. A smaller proportion of recent immigrants than of the Canadian-born have income from employment.
  • The average income of very recent immigrants in the year 2000 was almost 50% higher than for the comparable cohort in 1995, compared to increases of 17% for the Canadian-born and 26% for immigrants who had been in the country for more than five years.
  • As a share of income of households with all members in the 25 to 64 age group, transfer payments from government were twice as large for recent immigrant households as for Canadian-born households.
  • Three in ten very recent immigrants are in a low-income situation, twice as large a share as for the Canadian-born.

Housing (Part F)

  • In Calgary, 15% of recent immigrant households live in crowded conditions—that is, have one person or more per room—compared to 2% of Canadian-born households. Among households consisting exclusively of very recent immigrants, the incidence of crowding is 22%.
  • One in four recent immigrant households spends more than 30% of their income on shelter, compared to one in five Canadian-born households.
  • The state of repair of the housing stock among recent immigrants is comparable to that among the Canadian-born.
  • Home ownership is as common among recent immigrant households as among households of the Canadian-born.
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