Recent Immigrants in Metropolitan Areas: Toronto—A Comparative Profile Based on the 2001 Census
Part B: Who Are the Recent Immigrants?
Origin, immigration category and religion
Asian origins are predominant
Toronto’s immigrants come from all over the world and represent a diversity of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Over the past several decades there has been a considerable change in the source countries of immigrants. In 2001, for example, there were 415,500 residents of Toronto who had landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001. The most common country of birth for these immigrants was China, accounting for 13% of these new arrivals to Canada (17% if persons born in Hong Kong are included). The ten most common countries of birth, accounting for 60% of these very recent immigrants, were China, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Iran, the Russian Federation, South Korea and Jamaica. In comparison, only five of these countries were in the top ten countries of birth of immigrants who landed in Canada before 1986.
|4||China, People's Republic of||136,140||7%|
|Top ten countries||1,089,590||54%|
|All other countries||943,370||46%|
|Immigrated before 1986|
|6||China, People's Republic of||33,640||4%|
|Top ten countries||572,100||60%|
|All other countries||382,320||40%|
|4||China, People's Republic of||47,580||7%|
|Top ten countries||393,620||59%|
|All other countries||269,420||41%|
|1||China, People's Republic of||54,930||13%|
|Top ten countries||249,160||60%|
|All other countries||166,350||40%|
Among Toronto’s earlier immigrants—those arriving in Canada before 1986—Italy and the United Kingdom were the most common countries of birth, accounting for 27% of this group. These two countries accounted for nearly one half of Toronto’s immigrants who landed in Canada before 1961.
In general, the birth origins of Toronto’s immigrant population vary in relation to the period of immigration. European birth origins are predominant among those who immigrated in the 1950s, the 1960s and, to a lesser extent, the 1970s, and Asian birth origins are predominant among those who immigrated in the 1980s and 1990s. Seven of the top ten countries of birth of very recent immigrants are in Asia, and for immigrants who landed from 1986 to 1995, six of the top ten countries of birth are in Asia.
A favoured destination
|Country of Birth||Total recent immigrants to Canada||Share residing in Toronto|
|Trinidad and Tobago||28,790||78%|
|All recent immigrants||2,491,850||43%|
|China, People's Republic of||236,930||43%|
|South Africa, Republic of||19,890||35%|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||23,170||26%|
Note: Table B-2 lists all countries that are the place of birth of at least 10,000 recent immigrants living in Canada in 2001, with Toronto’s share being 1% or more.
For immigrants from many countries, Toronto is a top destination. For example, of the 39,000 Guyana-born individuals who immigrated since 1986 and were living in Canada in 2001, 34,000 or 87% were living in Toronto. Toronto is also home to a large share of recent immigrants from Jamaica, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago. Of the 74,000 recent immigrants to Canada who were born in the United States, a relatively small proportion—20%—were residing in Toronto in 2001. However, even the share of recent immigrants born in the United States exceeds the 11% share of Canadian-born persons living in Canada’s largest city.
High share of economic immigrants among very recent landings
Statistics published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada show that the number of immigrants who reported Toronto as their destination when they landed in Canada jumped by nearly 170,000 between the second half of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, an increase of more than 50%, and then dropped by 26,300 in the second half of the 1990s. The increase and decline were concentrated in the family and refugee classes, while the number of economic immigrants increased, particularly in the most recent five-year period. Six in ten very recent immigrants destined for Toronto entered through the economic category.
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures, 2002 (data set).
Note: The 2001 Census did not ask immigrants about the immigration categories through which they were admitted to Canada. The information in Table B-3 was obtained from records at Citizenship and Immigration Canada and pertains to the time of landing. Immigration categories are described in the Glossary.
Within the family class, the number of sponsored spouses doubled from 1986-1990 to more than 80,000 in the first half of the 1990s, before sliding back somewhat. The number of other relatives—parents and grandparents, sons and daughters, and fiancés—increased from about 75,000 in 1986-1990 to 130,000 in 1991-1995 before falling to half that level during the 1996-2000 period.
As for refugees, government-assisted refugees declined in number from 16,000 in the second half of the 1980s to 7,000 a decade later. The number of privately-sponsored refugees dwindled to 5,000 after peaking in the first half of the 1980s at 38,000. During the 1990s, 55,000 refugees who landed in Canada intended to settle in Toronto.
Skilled workers and their dependants account for the lion’s share of economic immigrants, as well as for all the growth in the number of economic immigrants during the 15 years before 2001. The number of entrepreneurs with dependants was between ten and fifteen thousand in each five-year period.
Religions changing with countries of birth
While all Christians combined are still as numerous as other religious affiliations among very recent immigrants, the share of very recent immigrants affiliated with the Muslim and Hindu faiths is higher than among earlier immigrants. Buddhists and Sikhs make up smaller, relatively stable shares of immigrants. Among the Canadian-born, none of these four non-Christian religions claims the affiliation of more than 2% of the population.
|Canadian-born||Immigrants||Immigrated before 1986||Immigrated 1986-1995||Immigrated 1996-2001|
Note: Religions are listed in order of their share of the population of Canada, from highest to lowest, with Christian religions grouped together.
Roman Catholics and Protestants each account for one-third of the Canadian-born population of Toronto. While Roman Catholics were numerous among earlier immigrants, their share has fallen with the more recent arrivals. Protestants make up an even smaller proportion of recent immigrants. The Anglican Church claims the affiliation of one in ten Canadian-born persons, while only one in one-hundred of very recent immigrants are affiliated with this church. The same trend applies to the United Church. The proportion of immigrants reporting Orthodox Christian faith varies only slightly by period of immigration.
Age and gender
Nearly one-half of very recent immigrants are working-age adults 25 to 44
The age distribution of the very recent immigrant population (those landing between 1996 and 2001) is markedly different from that of the Canadian-born population, with a larger proportion aged 25 to 44 and proportionally fewer children under 15 years of age. In 2001, nearly one-half of recent immigrants living in Toronto were between the ages of 25 and 44, compared to 30% of the Canadian-born population. Children less than 15 years of age accounted for one-fifth of the recent immigrant population compared with 31% of the Canadian-born population.
|15 to 24
|25 to 44
|45 to 64
|Immigrated before 1986||0||8,840||124,570||232,460||134,280||500,150|
|Immigrated before 1986||0||9,330||114,510||216,290||114,140||454,270|
|Immigrated before 1986||0||18,170||239,080||448,760||248,420||954,420|
|Immigrated before 1986||0%||2%||25%||47%||26%||100%|
These differences in age structure are to some degree a result of how we define immigrants and the Canadian-born. The immigrant population grows older like the Canadian population but does not renew itself in the same way, as children born in Canada to immigrants are not considered immigrants. Thus, there are no persons under 15 years of age among immigrants who landed before 1986, and the older age groups are over-represented among these earlier immigrants. By the same token, the share of children among the Canadian-born is large as it includes children born in Canada to immigrant parents. This is particularly so in Toronto since recent immigrants make up a very large share of the population.
The age structure of very recent immigrants closely resembles age at landing. Immigrants tend to arrive in Canada during their prime working-age years. This was the case among immigrants who landed more than 30 years ago, and it is still the case today. It is therefore not surprising that a large share of very recent immigrants were in the 25 to 44 age group.
Many of the characteristics and circumstances described in this profile vary with age. Differences between immigrants or groups of immigrants and the Canadian-born often are at least in part a reflection of differences in the age structure.
Figure B-1: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born, by age, Toronto Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (percentage distribution)
More women than men
The proportion of women in the recent immigrant population in Toronto is similar to but, at 51% to 52%, slightly higher than that of the Canadian-born population.
There are 42,300 more women than men among the 1,078,500 recent immigrants in Toronto. The number of women is particularly high among recent immigrants from the Philippines (13,000 more women than men out of 73,900 recent immigrants) and Jamaica (6,700 more women than men out of 39,500 recent immigrants).
|Under 15 years||15 to 24 years||25 to 44 years||45 to 64 years||65 years and over||Total|
|Immigrated before 1986||-||49%||52%||52%||54%||52%|
As women on average live longer than men, they make up a large share of persons aged 65 years and over. But the higher proportion of women among recent immigrants is not related to age. For instance, almost two-thirds of recent immigrants aged 25 to 44 from the Philippines are women. Some of them have obtained permanent resident status after a period of employment as live-in caregivers.
At the opposite end of the spectrum of the gender mix are Switzerland, Malta, Iraq and Lebanon. Fifty-four percent or more of recent immigrants from these countries are men. Men outnumber women by 2,500 among recent immigrants from Iran and by 2,300 in the case of Pakistan.
The gender balance, by country of origin, has not changed greatly since 1996.
Language and education
Nine in ten very recent immigrants speak English or French
A large majority of Toronto’s immigrants 15 years of age and over reported being able to carry on a conversation in at least one of Canada’s two official languages. Even among very recent immigrants, who landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001, nine in ten (93% of men and 88% of women) reported being able to speak an official language in May 2001. Only one in ten of these very recent immigrants could not speak either official language. Knowledge of official languages was equally high among those who immigrated between 1986 and 1995, and, at 94%, greater among those who immigrated before 1986.
The proportion of Toronto’s immigrants able to carry on a conversation in English or French decreases with age. Among immigrants under age 45 who landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001, almost all are able to speak an official language, and there is little difference between men and women in this regard. Among those aged 45 to 64, however, the percentage that can speak English or French falls, and more so for women than men. For both men and women, seniors aged 65 and over are least likely to have conversational ability in English or French.
|English only||French only||English and French||Neither English nor French||Total|
|15 to 24 years||29,900||50||2,060||1,315||33,325|
|25 to 44 years||90,625||130||4,805||7,215||102,775|
|45 to 64 years||19,805||55||745||8,115||28,720|
|65 years and over||3,620||125||95||5,060||8,900|
|15 and over||143,945||355||7,710||21,705||173,715|
|15 to 24 years||28,650||10||1,340||1,015||31,015|
|25 to 44 years||83,120||100||4,635||3,555||91,410|
|45 to 64 years||24,425||45||995||3,895||29,360|
|65 years and over||3,355||55||160||2,765||6,335|
|15 and over||139,550||210||7,130||11,230||158,120|
|15 to 24 years||58,555||60||3,405||2,330||64,350|
|25 to 44 years||173,745||225||9,440||10,770||194,180|
|45 to 64 years||44,230||95||1,740||12,005||58,070|
|65 years and over||6,975||180||260||7,825||15,240|
|15 and over||283,495||565||14,840||32,930||331,830|
|15 to 24 years||90%||0.2%||6%||4%||100%|
|25 to 44 years||88%||0.1%||5%||7%||100%|
|45 to 64 years||69%||0.2%||3%||28%||100%|
|65 years and over||41%||1.4%||1%||57%||100%|
|15 and over||83%||0.2%||4%||12%||100%|
|15 to 24 years||92%||0.0%||4%||3%||100%|
|25 to 44 years||91%||0.1%||5%||4%||100%|
|45 to 64 years||83%||0.2%||3%||13%||100%|
|65 years and over||53%||0.9%||3%||44%||100%|
|15 and over||88%||0.1%||5%||7%||100%|
|15 to 24 years||91%||0.1%||5%||4%||100%|
|25 to 44 years||89%||0.1%||5%||6%||100%|
|45 to 64 years||76%||0.2%||3%||21%||100%|
|65 years and over||46%||1.2%||2%||51%||100%|
|15 and over||85%||0.2%||4%||10%||100%|
Ability to converse in either or both official languages has improved with the very recent immigrant cohort: 4% more men and 5% more women had this ability in 2001 compared to a similar cohort (those who landed within the five years prior to the census) in 1996. This may reflect changes in countries of origin, the increase in the number of economic immigrants and perhaps also greater awareness among immigrants of the need to speak Canada’s languages before and after arrival.
Seven in ten very recent immigrants speak a foreign language at home
For the majority of Toronto’s recent immigrants, the language spoken most often at home is one other than English or French. Seven in ten immigrants who landed between 1996 and 2001 most often speak a foreign language in their homes.
The use of foreign languages is also high among other immigrant cohorts. Three in five of those who immigrated between 1986 and 1995, and one in three of those who immigrated prior to 1986 most often speak a foreign language at home.
Figure B-2: Immigrants by period of immigration—15 years of age and over—use of a foreign language at home, Toronto Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (percentage)
The use of foreign languages in the home was slightly more common in 2001 than in 1996 for a given length of stay in Canada. Among those who had lived in Canada from 5 to 15 years, 58% commonly used a foreign language in 2001, compared to 55% in 1996.
Very recent immigrants better educated than those who came before
The share of immigrants with a minimal education is four to five times as large as the share of the Canadian-born with a minimal education. The Canadian-born are more likely than immigrants to have some high school or to have completed university. Very recent immigrants, however, boast a significant number of university graduates.
When education levels are compared by age group, the younger generation has a much higher level of education than older groups, whether born inside or outside Canada. One in seven persons under 45 years of age born in Canada has not completed high school, compared to one half of persons age 65 and over. More than three in five Canadian-born persons under 45 years of age have a post-secondary diploma or degree, compared to 39% of men and 27% of women over 65 years of age. A similar large shift in educational qualifications is observed among immigrants.
|Less than grade 9||Some high school||High school diploma||College or trade diploma||University degree||Total|
|Immigrated before 1986||107,310||86,300||102,590||128,040||75,930||500,150|
|Immigrated before 1986||76,790||73,620||75,550||135,890||92,440||454,260|
|Immigrated before 1986||184,100||159,920||178,130||263,920||168,360||954,420|
|Immigrated before 1986||21%||17%||21%||26%||15%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||17%||16%||17%||30%||20%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||19%||17%||19%||28%||18%||100%|
|No high school diploma||With post-secondary diploma or degree|
|25 to 44
|45 to 65
|25 to 44
|45 to 65
|Immigrated before 1986||21,980||82,620||87,500||73,190||101,230||26,220|
|Immigrated before 1986||23,010||63,090||62,020||65,720||120,200||39,850|
|Immigrated before 1986||44,990||145,690||149,520||138,910||221,430||66,070|
|Immigrated before 1986||18%||36%||65%||59%||44%||20%|
|Immigrated before 1986||20%||29%||54%||57%||56%||35%|
|Immigrated before 1986||19%||32%||60%||58%||49%||27%|
Canadian-born persons in Toronto generally have more education than immigrants, whether one considers the proportion without a high school diploma or the proportion with post-secondary credentials. The differences are in the order of 5 to 10 percentage points. However, this pattern is broken with the younger very recent immigrants. Fully three-quarters of men aged 25-44 who immigrated during the 1996-2001 period have a post-secondary diploma or degree, compared to three in five Canadian-born men. For very recent immigrant women in the same age group, two-thirds have a post-secondary diploma or degree, about the same share as for their Canadian-born counterparts. By the same token, the share of persons with less than high school is the same for very recent immigrants and the Canadian-born in the 25-44 age group. This very high education level of very recent immigrants is something new. In 1996, immigrants in the comparable cohort, those who had landed in the five years previous to the census, were not as well educated.
Recent immigrants add to Toronto’s pool of scientists and engineers
Approximately three out of every five men who immigrated after 1985 and have a post-secondary diploma or degree majored in physical sciences, engineering or trades. This compares to two out of five Canadian-born men. Among women with a post-secondary diploma or degree, one in five recent immigrants have studied some physical science or technology, compared to one in nine Canadian-born women with similar education levels.
|Physical sciences, engineering and trades||Social sciences, education and arts||Commerce, management and business administration||Health professions and related technologies||Total|
|Immigrated before 1986||29,300||47,340||42,820||20,440||139,890|
|Immigrated before 1986||78,230||24,020||26,160||6,140||134,540|
|Immigrated before 1986||107,520||71,330||68,970||26,580||274,390|
|Immigrated before 1986||21%||34%||31%||15%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||58%||18%||19%||5%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||39%||26%||25%||10%||100%|
By contrast, recent immigrants are represented in significantly smaller proportions than the Canadian-born in the social sciences, education and the arts. One-half of Canadian-born women have diplomas or degrees in these fields, compared to one-third of very recent immigrant women. For men, the share of diplomas and degrees in the social sciences, education and the arts is one-third for the Canadian-born and less than one-fifth for recent immigrants. The several immigrant cohorts and the Canadian-born are more alike with respect to the proportions who specialized in commerce and business and health professions and related technologies. The educational choices of immigrants, recent immigrants and the Canadian-born remain much the same as in 1996.
Recent immigrants more likely to attend school
Very recent immigrants are relatively likely to be in school. School attendance is nearly twice as high for this group as for the Canadian-born in the 25-44 age group and nearly three times as high in the 45-64 age group.
|15 to 24
|25 to 44
|45 to 64
|15 to 24
|25 to 44
|45 to 64
|Immigrated before 1986||5,660||15,010||9,100||64%||12%||4%|
|Immigrated before 1986||5,830||10,750||6,050||63%||9%||3%|
|Immigrated before 1986||11,490||25,750||15,130||63%||11%||3%|
School attendance, of course, is much higher in the youngest age group, persons of 15 to 24 years of age, than in older age groups. Here, in comparison to the Canadian-born, we find a higher rate of attendance for men who immigrated very recently and a similar rate for very recent immigrant women. The latter is just as noteworthy as the former, as educational participation of young Canadian-born women is very high by international standards. School attendance is also high among young earlier immigrants. School attendance rates for all groups are similar to those in 1996, with one exception: more young earlier immigrants were in school in 2001 than in 1996.
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