Recent Immigrants in Metropolitan Areas: Toronto—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 Toronto 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, far more than are found among the other immigrant cohorts or among the Canadian-born. Nine in ten reported being able to conduct a conversation in 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)

  • The Toronto Census Metropolitan Area is by far Canada’s primary urban centre for recent immigrants. In 2001, there were 1,078,500 recent immigrants in Toronto or 43% of all recent immigrants living in Canada, accounting for more than one-half of immigrants in Toronto and 23% 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.
  • More than four in five immigrants who landed between 1986 and 1995 and were living in Toronto in 2001 had become Canadian citizens by May 2001.

Who are the recent immigrants? (Part B)

  • Recent immigrants to Toronto come from all over the world. The share of very recent immigrants from China (excluding Hong Kong), the largest source country, is 13%, and India is a close second with 12%. Three countries in South Asia—India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—contributed nearly one-quarter of very recent immigrants.
  • Statistics published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada show that among very recent immigrants destined for Toronto, more than 60% entered as economic immigrants and less than 30% entered through the family category. During the 1991-1995 period more immigrants entered through the family category than the economic category.
  • Recent immigrants are changing the religious landscape of Toronto. Twenty percent of very recent immigrants are Muslims and 10% are Hindus. There are fewer Christians among very recent immigrants than among earlier immigrants and the Canadian-born. Among Christians, there are fewer Roman Catholics and Protestants and more Orthodox and other Christians among very recent immigrants as compared to the Canadian-born.
  • Close to one-half of recent immigrants are 25 to 44 years of age, and two in ten are children under 15 years of age. In Toronto’s Canadian-born population, each of these age groups accounts for about 30% of the population.
  • Almost nine in ten persons who immigrated between 1996 and 2001 reported being able to conduct a conversation in English or French. For seven in ten very recent immigrants, the language most often spoken at home is a language other than English or French.
  • While immigrants living in Toronto as a whole do not match the Canadian-born with respect to educational attainment, very recent immigrants have similar credentials to the Canadian-born. Among recent immigrant men 25 to 44 years, three-quarters have a post-secondary diploma or degree, compared to two thirds of Canadian men in that age group.

Families and households (Part C)

  • Recent immigrants are more likely than the Canadian-born to live with relatives, and they are almost twice as likely to live in extended families. Only 6% of very recent immigrants 65 years of age and over live alone, compared to almost one-third of their Canadian-born counterparts.
  • Recent immigrant families are more likely than Canadian-born families to have children at home and less likely to be headed by a single parent.
  • Households in which at least one adult is a recent immigrant account for 26% of households in Toronto. 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 families or more than one family. They also tend to be larger, with one-half consisting of four or more persons, compared to less than 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 in Toronto. 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.
  • Overall, labour force participation was higher and unemployment lower in 2001 than in 1996. The Canadian-born and all cohorts of immigrants across the age spectrum showed gains. The gains were larger for women than for men and for the young and old compared to those 25-44 years of age. Immigrants who landed in the five years before the 2001 Census showed significant gains compared to their counterparts in the 1996 Census.
  • In comparison to the Canadian-born, recent immigrants were much more likely to be employed in processing occupations and sales and services occupations and were less likely to be employed in administrative occupations and management and social occupations.
  • Recent immigrants were more likely than the Canadian-born to work in the manufacturing sector and, in the case of women, in hospitality and other services industries. A smaller share of recent immigrants than the Canadian-born held jobs in construction and transportation industries and the public sector.
  • In comparison to the jobs of the Canadian-born, 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 slightly more than one-half of that of the Canadian-born. Men who immigrated during the 1986-1995 period had 60% the income of their Canadian-born counterparts, and women who landed during the same period had 66% the income of their Canadian-born counterparts. A smaller proportion of recent immigrants than of the Canadian-born had income from employment.
  • Average incomes of very recent immigrants for the year 2000 were higher than in 1995 by one-half for men and by almost one-third for women, compared to increases for the Canadian-born of 30% for men and 20% for women. The other immigrant cohorts showed gains from 16% to 24%.
  • As a share of income of households in the 25 to 64 age group, government transfer payments were three times as large for recent immigrant households as for Canadian-born households.
  • One-third of very recent immigrants are in a low-income situation, more than twice as large a share as for the Canadian-born.

Housing (Part F)

  • In Toronto, 27% 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 consisting exclusively of very recent immigrants, the incidence of crowding is 37%.
  • One in three recent immigrant households spends more than 30% of their income on shelter, compared to one in four Canadian-born households.
  • The state of repair of the housing stock among recent immigrants is comparable to that among the Canadian-born.
  • Only 28% of households made up exclusively of very recent immigrants own their home, compared to more than one-half of other recent immigrant households, three-quarters of earlier immigrant households and 62% of Canadian-born households.
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