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

Part A: Immigrants and Recent Immigrants

165,200 immigrants in the Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area

According to the 2001 census, there were 165,200 immigrants living in the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Edmonton (that is, the Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area or Edmonton for short) in 2001. The immigrant population in Edmonton has increased over the 15 years ending in 2001, but at a slower pace than the Canadian-born population. Over the period of 1986 to 2001, the number of immigrants living in Edmonton increased by 22,800 or 16%. In comparison, Edmonton’s Canadian-born population increased by 120,500 or 19%. Immigrants accounted for 15% of Edmonton’s total population growth between 1986 and 2001.

Table A-1: Immigrants, Canadian-born and total population, Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area, Alberta and Canada, 1986, 1996 and 2001
  Census of Population
  1986 1996 2001
 Immigrants 142,360 158,360 165,240
 Canadian-born 635,550 691,620 755,970
Population 777,910 854,230 927,020
 Immigrants 368,760 405,130 438,340
 Canadian-born 1,971,510 2,252,990 2,485,540
Population 2,340,270 2,669,200 2,941,150
 Immigrants 3,908,150 4,971,060 5,448,490
 Canadian-born 21,113,860 23,390,330 23,991,910
Population 25,022,010 28,528,130 29,639,040
  1986-1996 1996-2001 1986-2001
 Immigrants 16,000 11% 6,880 4% 22,880 16%
 Canadian-born 56,070 9% 64,350 9% 120,420 19%
Population 76,320 10% 72,790 9% 149,110 19%
 Immigrants 36,370 10% 33,210 8% 69,580 19%
 Canadian-born 281,480 14% 232,550 10% 514,030 26%
Population 328,930 14% 271,950 10% 600,880 26%
 Immigrants 1,062,910 27% 477,430 10% 1,540,340 39%
 Canadian-born 2,276,470 11% 601,580 3% 2,878,050 14%
Population 3,506,120 14% 1,110,910 4% 4,617,030 18%

Note: In Table A-1, population totals for 1996 and 2001 include non-permanent residents as well as immigrants and the Canadian-born. Non-permanent residents are not included in Table A-1 for 1986 nor are they included in any population figures elsewhere in this report.

Edmonton’s immigrant population has grown at a slower pace than the immigrant population in Alberta and Canada. To take the most recent five-year period as an example, between 1996 and 2001 the number of immigrants in Edmonton increased by 6,800 or 4%. By comparison, the total number of immigrants living in Canada increased by 477,400 or 10% during the same five years.

In 2001, Edmonton was the place of residence of 3.1% of the population of Canada, the same proportion as in 1986. The city was home to 3% of the immigrant population, compared to 3.6% fifteen years earlier. Edmonton’s share of the country’s 24 million Canadian-born persons increased to 3.2% in 2001 from 3.0% in 1986.

In 2001, Edmonton’s share of Alberta’s population was 32%, virtually unchanged from 33% fifteen years earlier. Its share of the province’s immigrants was 38%, again similar to the 39% in 1986. Its share of the province’s Canadian-born population was 30% compared to 32% in 1986.

A stable share of the population

The proportion of Edmonton’s population comprised of immigrants has decreased marginally since 1996 after increasing between 1986 and 1996. In 2001, immigrants represented 18% of the population, the same share as in 1986. The proportion of immigrants in Alberta’s population has remained unchanged at 15% between 1996 and 2001. The proportion of immigrants in the population of Edmonton is the same as the proportion of immigrants in Canada’s population in 2001.

Figure A-1: Immigrants as a percentage of the population, Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area, Alberta and Canada, 1986, 1996 and 2001

Figure A-1

Four out of ten immigrants landed after 1985

Many of Edmonton’s immigrants have lived in Canada for a long time. Sixty-one percent of the city’s 165,200 immigrants in 2001 landed before 1986. The share of Edmonton’s population that landed before 1986 is slightly higher than the share in Alberta who landed in the same period. In Canada as a whole, somewhat more than one-half of immigrants landed before 1986.

Table A-2: Immigrants by period of immigration, Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area, Alberta and Canada, 2001 (number and percentage)
Period of immigration Edmonton Alberta Canada
Before 1961 26,790 16% 74,000 17% 894,470 16%
 1961-1970 19,010 12% 50,990 12% 745,570 14%
 1971-1980 36,950 22% 91,990 21% 936,280 17%
 1981-1985 17,320 10% 42,090 10% 380,330 7%
Earlier immigrants 100,060 61% 259,060 59% 2,956,630 54%
 1986-1990 20,270 12% 49,350 11% 661,180 12%
 1991-1995 23,910 14% 63,350 14% 867,360 16%
 1996-2001 21,010 13% 66,580 15% 963,320 18%
Recent immigrants 65,180 39% 179,280 41% 2,491,850 46%
Total 165,240 100% 438,340 100% 5,448,490 100%

A decreasing share of Alberta’s immigrants

In 2001, 3% of Canada’s 5.4 million immigrants were living in Edmonton. Edmonton’s share of Canada’s immigrants varies according to the period of immigration. It has a somewhat larger share of immigrants who landed in the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s and a somewhat smaller share of very recent immigrants.

Figure A-2: Immigrants residing in Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area as a percentage of Canada’s and Alberta’s immigrant population, by period of immigration, 2001

Figure A-2

In 2001, 38% of Alberta’s immigrants lived in Edmonton. Edmonton’s share has varied between 32% and 41%, depending on the period of immigration.

65,200 recent immigrants — 7% of the Edmonton CMA population

In 2001, there were 65,200 recent immigrants (defined as those who landed in Canada after 1985) living in Edmonton, representing 7% of Edmonton’s total population. The share of recent immigrants in Edmonton’s population is close to the share in Alberta and Canada.

Table A-3: Immigrants as a percentage of the population, Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area, Alberta and Canada, 2001
Period of immigration Edmonton Alberta Canada
 1986-1990 20,270 2% 49,350 2% 661,180 2%
 1991-1995 23,910 3% 63,350 2% 867,360 3%
 1996-2001 21,010 2% 66,580 2% 963,320 3%
Immigrated 1986-2001 65,180 7% 179,280 6% 2,491,850 8%
Immigrated before 1986 100,060 11% 259,060 9% 2,956,640 10%
All immigrants 165,240 18% 438,340 15% 5,448,490 19%

In Edmonton, very recent immigrants—those who came to Canada in the 1996 to 2001 period—numbered 21,000 and represented 2% of the total population. In Canada as a whole, very recent immigrants numbered close to one million, representing 3% of the population.

Four out of five eligible recent immigrants have become Canadian citizens

By 2001, a large majority of Edmonton’s immigrants who landed in Canada during the 1986-1995 period—82%—had become Canadian citizens. Immigrants who landed between 1986 and 1995 from most countries are becoming Canadians in high proportions, from 70% to close to 100%. More than 90% of immigrants who landed during the 1986-1995 period from Viet Nam, Hong Kong and China (among the top countries of birth for Edmonton) had obtained Canadian citizenship by 2001. Between 70% and 90% of those from the Philippines, Poland, India, El Salvador and Lebanon had done the same (For the top ten countries of birth, see Table B-1).

A significant share of immigrants from Western Europe, the United States, and a few other countries are postponing or forgoing Canadian citizenship. The rate of acquisition of Canadian citizenship by persons who immigrated to Canada from these countries during the 1980s and living in Edmonton in 2001 is less than 70%, the lowest being 40% for Jamaica.

Immigrants from these countries may want to keep open the option of returning to their country of birth or, for those from Europe, retaining the right to settle in any member state of the European Union. Depending on policies in countries of birth, people may not be able to retain their original nationality if they become Canadian citizens. As well, children born in Canada while the immigrant parents are still citizens of their country of birth may be citizens of that country, but not if their parents have become Canadian citizens.

Overall, however, the rate at which recent immigrants become citizens of Canada is not changing. The large majority of immigrants clearly continue to opt for Canadian citizenship. Eighty-two percent of immigrants who landed six to fifteen years before May 2001 had become Canadian citizens by that date, compared to 81% of the comparable cohort at the time of the 1996 Census.

One in eight immigrants who landed during the 1986-1995 period had acquired Canadian citizenship while retaining the citizenship of another country. Dual citizenship was more common among recent immigrants than among earlier immigrants. Among Edmonton’s immigrants who landed in Canada before 1986, one in ten reported dual citizenship in 2001. The incidence of dual citizenship among immigrants who landed six to fifteen years before the census was lower in 2001 (12%) than in 1996 (17%).

Table A-4: Acquisition of Canadian citizenship by country of birth, Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area, 2001
More than 90 per cent of Edmonton’s immigrants who landed in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have become Canadian citizens: Less than 70 per cent of Edmonton’s immigrants who landed in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have become Canadian citizens: More than one-quarter of Edmonton’s immigrants who landed in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have dual citizenship:
Sri Lanka
Russian Federation
Viet Nam
Czech Republic
Hong Kong
China, People’s Republic of
United States
Korea, South
United Kingdom
South Africa, Republic of
United Kingdom
Percent of immigrants with Canadian citizenship (including those with dual citizenship) Percent of immigrants with dual citizenship
Immigrated before 1986 89% Immigrated before 1986 10%
Immigrated 1986-1995 82% Immigrated 1986-1995 12%

Note: Countries of birth are listed from highest to lowest rate of Canadian citizenship in column one, lowest to highest citizenship rate in column two, and highest to lowest rate of dual citizenship in column three. Citizenship refers to a person’s legal citizenship status, as reported in the 2001 Census. In Canada, there is a residence requirement of three years before Canadian citizenship can be acquired. As a result, many immigrants who landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001 were not yet eligible for Canadian citizenship at the time the census was carried out in 2001. For this reason, this group is not considered here. Instead, focus is on persons who immigrated between 1986 and 1995.

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