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


Very recent immigrants—a snapshot

  • The newest immigrants, who landed after 1995 and were living in Montreal on May 15, 2001, are more highly educated than those who came before. More than one-third have a university degree, a larger share than among other immigrant groups or those born in Canada. Post-secondary credentials are more common among very recent immigrants of all ages than among the Canadian-born. There are more Algerians and Chinese and fewer Lebanese in comparison to earlier immigrant cohorts. French, English, or both are spoken by 94% of very recent immigrants. Thanks to these qualities and a stronger labour market, the incomes reported by very recent immigrants in the 2001 Census are 60% of the incomes reported by the Canadian-born. In the 1996 Census, immigrants who landed in the first half of the 1990s reported incomes that were 50% of the incomes of the Canadian-born.

Immigrants and recent immigrants (Part A)

  • In 2001, there were 293,800 recent immigrants in Montreal, 12% of all recent immigrants living in Canada. These recent immigrants, who landed after 1985, accounted for slightly less than one-half of immigrants in Montreal and 9% of Montreal’s population. 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-four percent of Montreal’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 Montreal come from all over the world, in proportions that are different from those in the rest of Canada. Haiti, Algeria and Morocco are major countries of birth of recent immigrants, with Montreal having a share in excess of 80% of immigrants to Canada from these countries. Lebanon, China and France are also important source countries.
  • Statistics published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada show that one-half of recent immigrants destined to Montreal entered through the economic category, more than one-quarter through the family class, and the remainder as refugees.
  • Only one-quarter of very recent immigrants are Roman Catholics, compared to more than 80% of the Canadian-born in Montreal. Three in ten very recent immigrants are Muslims.
  • Five in ten recent immigrants and only three in ten Canadian-born are 25 to 44 years of age. The young account for about one-third of both groups, and persons 45 years and over make up a much larger share of the Canadian-born than of recent immigrants.
  • Ninety-four percent of persons who immigrated between 1996 and 2001 reported being able to conduct a conversation in French or English. For 54% of very recent immigrants, the language most often spoken at home is a language other than French or English.
  • The level of education of very recent immigrants in Montreal is quite high compared to that of the Canadian-born, with 30% of women and 40% of men having a university degree. Immigrants who landed during the 1986-1995 period have less education than the very recent cohort, but more than the Canadian-born.

Families and households (Part C)

  • Recent immigrants are more likely than the Canadian-born to live with relatives, and they are more than twice as likely to live in extended families. Only 15% of recent immigrants 65 years of age and over live alone, compared to more than one-third of their Canadian-born counterparts.
  • Recent immigrant families are more likely than Canadian-born families to have children at home. This difference is more pronounced the higher the age of the eldest family member. There are slightly fewer lone-parent families among recent immigrants than among Canadian-born families.
  • Households in which at least one adult is a recent immigrant account for 11% of households in Montreal. Two out of 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 or multiple families. They also tend to be larger, with 39% having four or more persons, compared to only 18% of Canadian-born households.

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. However, even immigrants who landed before 1986 do not participate in the Montreal labour market at quite the same rates as the Canadian-born, and they also experience more unemployment.
  • The pattern of 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 somewhat smaller for men than for women.
  • Lack of knowledge of French or 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 official languages is rare. Labour force participation is highest and unemployment lowest among those who speak both official languages.
  • Labour force participation was higher and unemployment lower in 2001 than in 1996. The Canadian-born and almost all cohorts of immigrants showed gains across the age spectrum. Immigrants who landed in the five years before the census showed remarkable gains compared to the same five-year cohort in 1996, probably a result of not only improved labour market conditions but also their higher educational attainment and knowledge of official languages.
  • In comparison to the Canadian-born, recent immigrants were much more likely to hold jobs in processing occupations or to work in hospitality and other services, or in the manufacturing sector. A smaller share of recent immigrants than the Canadian-born was employed in administrative and management and social occupations, or in construction and transportation, or the public sector. The jobs of recent immigrants 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 about three-fifths of that of the Canadian-born, while those who immigrated during the 1986-1995 period had close to two-thirds of that level. A smaller proportion of recent immigrants than of the Canadian-born had income from employment.
  • Compared to 1996, average incomes of very recent immigrants were 45% higher for both men and women, twice as large a change as for the Canadian-born.
  • Government transfer payments as a share of income for households in the 25-64 age group were twice as large for recent immigrant households as for Canadian-born households.
  • More than one-third of recent immigrants are in a low-income situation, compared to 15% of the Canadian-born.

Housing (Part F)

  • In Montreal, 22% 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 28%.
  • One in three recent immigrant households spend more than 30% of their income on shelter, compared to one in four Canadian-born households.
  • The state of repair of the housing stock is nearly as good for recent immigrants as for the Canadian-born.
  • Home ownership is quite rare among very recent immigrants, with less than 10% owning their own residence, compared to one-half of the households of the Canadian-born.

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