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


Very recent immigrants—a snapshot

  • Very recent immigrants, those who landed after or on January 1, 1996 and were living in Vancouver on May 15, 2001, are quite different in some respects from the groups that preceded them. Seven in ten entered as economic immigrants, and one-third of those living in Vancouver in 2001 have a university degree, compared to one in five Canadian-born persons. China replaced Hong Kong as the largest source country of very recent immigrants. Very recent immigrants reported more jobs and higher incomes in the 2001 Census than the comparable cohort reported in the 1996 Census.

Immigrants and recent immigrants (Part A)

  • In 2001, there were 416,700 recent immigrants in Vancouver, 17% of all recent immigrants living in Canada. These recent immigrants, who landed after 1985, accounted for more than one-half of immigrants in Vancouver and 21% of the population of the metropolitan area. 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 recent immigrants who landed between 1986 and 1995 had become Canadian citizens by May 2001.

Who are the recent immigrants? (Part B)

  • Recent immigrants to Vancouver come from all over the world. Among very recent immigrants, the share of China, the largest source country, is one-fifth, followed by Taiwan with 13%. In recent years, Hong Kong has become less important as a source of immigrants living in Vancouver.
  • Statistics published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada show that economic immigrants surged to 69% of very recent landings compared to 54% of very recent immigrants in the first half of the 1990s. One-quarter of very recent immigrants destined to Vancouver entered through the family class.
  • More than one-quarter of recent immigrants are Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or Sikhs, and only one in ten is Protestant compared to one-third of the Canadian-born population.
  • Forty-four percent of very recent immigrants are 25 to 44 years of age, compared to 31% of the Canadian-born. Only two in ten very recent immigrants are 45 or more years old, compared to three in ten Canadian-born.
  • Six out of seven persons who immigrated between 1996 and 2001 reported being able to conduct a conversation in English or French. For three in four very recent immigrants the language most often spoken at home is a language other than English or French.
  • The level of education of very recent immigrants in Vancouver is quite high compared to that of the Canadian-born, with one-third of very recent immigrants holding a university degree.

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 5% of very recent immigrants 65 and over live alone, compared to more than one in three of their Canadian-born counterparts.
  • Three in four recent immigrant families have children living in the home, compared to three in five Canadian-born families. 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 22% of households in Vancouver. More than 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 close to one-half consisting of four or more persons, compared to only 18% 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 almost the same rates as the Canadian-born and have similar unemployment rates.
  • This pattern of convergence to the Canadian-born with longer stay in Canada occurs across all age groups and all but the lower levels 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 knowledge of English is common.
  • Overall, labour market conditions changed only slightly for the better in Vancouver between 1996 and 2001. The income of the very recent immigrant cohort increased more than that of other immigrant cohorts and the Canadian-born.
  • In comparison to the Canadian-born, recent immigrants were more likely to be employed in processing and sales and services occupations, in the manufacturing sector and in hospitality and other services. A smaller share of recent immigrants than the Canadian-born held jobs in administrative and management and social occupations, or in construction and transportation, or the public sector.

Income (Part E)

  • On average among persons reporting income for the year 2000, the income of very recent immigrants was somewhat more than one-half of that of the Canadian-born, while those who immigrated during the 1986-1995 period had close to two-thirds the income of the Canadian-born. A smaller proportion of recent immigrants than of the Canadian-born had income from employment.
  • The average income of the very recent immigrant men cohort was 32% higher than in 1995—a larger increase than for other immigrant cohorts and Canadian-born men and women.
  • Transfer payments from government as a share of income of households in the 25-64 age group were twice as large for recent immigrant households as for Canadian-born households.
  • Four in ten very recent immigrants are in a low-income situation, three times as large a share as for the Canadian-born.

Housing (Part F)

  • In Vancouver, 23% of recent immigrant households live in crowded conditions—that is, have one person or more per room—compared to 4% of Canadian-born households. Among households consisting exclusively of very recent immigrants, the incidence of crowding is 30%.
  • Four in ten recent immigrant households spend more than 30% of their income on shelter, compared to three in ten Canadian-born households.
  • The state of repair of the housing stock among recent immigrants is comparable to that among the Canadian-born.
  • The rate of home-ownership is as high for recent immigrants, except for households consisting exclusively of very recent immigrants, as for the Canadian-born.
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