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


Very recent immigrants—a snapshot

  • Very recent immigrants, those who landed on or after January 1, 1996 and were living in Edmonton on May 15, 2001, are quite different in some respects from the groups that preceded them. While many came from the same countries as immigrants who landed during the 1986-1995 period, many more have university degrees, far more proportionately than among other immigrant cohorts or persons born in Canada. More than one-half have entered through the economic category, and nine in ten speak English. 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 65,200 recent immigrants in Edmonton, 2.6% of all recent immigrants living in Canada. These recent immigrants accounted for 39% of immigrants in Edmonton and 7% of the population of the city. 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.
  • Eighty-two percent of Edmonton’s immigrants who landed in Canada between 1986 and 1995 had become Canadian citizens by May 2001.

Who are the recent immigrants (Part B)

  • Recent immigrants to Edmonton come from all over the world. Asian origins are predominant among immigrants who landed after 1995. India, China and the Philippines remain important source countries, but fewer have come from Poland, Viet Nam and Hong Kong.
  • Statistics published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada show that over one-third of very recent immigrants destined to Edmonton entered through the family class. Economic immigrants surged to 55% of very recent immigrants from 40% of the previous five-year cohort.
  • Recent immigrants are changing the religious landscape of Edmonton. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs make up more than one-quarter of recent immigrants.
  • Almost one-half of very recent immigrants are 25 to 44 years of age, and 20% are children under 15 years of age. In Edmonton’s Canadian-born population, each of these groups account for over 25%.
  • More than nine out of ten persons who immigrated between 1996 and 2001 reported being able to conduct a conversation in English or French. For six in ten very recent immigrants and more than one-half of immigrants who landed during the 1986-1995 period the language most often spoken at home is a language other than English or French.
  • The level of education of very recent immigrants in Edmonton is quite high compared to that of the Canadian-born, with three-tenths of women and over one-third of men having a university degree, twice as high a share as among the Canadian-born.

Families and households (Part C)

  • The majority of recent immigrants live with relatives, and they are twice as likely as the Canadian-born to live in extended families. Fewer than one in ten recent immigrants of 65 years of age and over lives 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 in families whose oldest family member 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 8% of households in Edmonton. One in three 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 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 generally higher and unemployment lower in 2001 than in 1996 among the Canadian-born and immigrants. Immigrants who landed in the five years before the census showed significant gains compared to their counterparts five years earlier.
  • In comparison to the Canadian-born, recent immigrants were much more likely to be employed in processing occupations and sales and services occupations and less likely to be employed in administrative occupations and management and social occupations. Very recent immigrants were also present in large numbers in health and science occupations.
  • Recent immigrants were more likely than the Canadian-born to work in the manufacturing sector and in hospitality and other services industries. Construction and transportation industries and the public sector account for smaller shares of the jobs of recent immigrants than of the Canadian-born.
  • The jobs of recent immigrants often require a relatively low level of skill.

Income (Part E)

  • On average among persons reporting income for the year 2000, the income of very recent immigrants was 62% of that of the Canadian-born, while those who immigrated during the 1986-1995 period had an average income of 70% of the income of the Canadian-born. A somewhat smaller share of recent immigrants than of the Canadian-born have income from employment.
  • The average income of very recent immigrants has increased since 1995 by nearly one-third for women and nearly one-half for men, while the Canadian-born and other immigrant cohorts experienced increases of up to 20%.
  • As a share of income of households in the 25 to 64 age group, transfer payments from government were somewhat less than 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 Edmonton, 18% of recent immigrant households live in crowded conditions—that is, have one person or more per room—compared to 3% of Canadian-born households. Among households of very recent immigrants, the incidence of crowding is 23%.
  • One in four recent immigrant households spends more than 30% of its income on shelter, a larger share than the proportion of Canadian-born households who spend the same on shelter.
  • The state of repair of the dwellings of recent immigrants is slightly better than that of the homes of the Canadian-born.
  • Home ownership is not as common among recent immigrant households as among Canadian-born households. Of households consisting only of very recent immigrants, 30% own their residence.
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