Canadian population 2021 Census

Immigrants make up the largest share of the Canadian population in over 150 years

According to the 2021 Census of Population released by Statistics Canada, almost one in four people in Canada are immigrants.

In 2021, more than 8.3 million people or 23.0% of the population, were -or had ever been- landed immigrants or permanent residents in Canada. This is the largest immigrant share of Canada’s population since the Confederation (1867). It is also the largest proportion among the G7.

If these trends continue, immigrants could represent from 29.1% to 34.0% of the population of Canada by 2041.

It is important to mention that immigrants come from many different countries. In the past, the majority of immigrants in Canada came from Europe. However, over the past 50 years, the share of new immigrants from Europe has declined. On the other hand, the share of new immigrants who were born in Asia, including the Middle East, is increasing.

In 2021, the number of permanent resident arrivals was dominated by Indian citizens. Also, in 2021, Chinese citizens represented the second-highest number of people who have been granted permanent resident status in Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, Asia has become the top source region of new immigrants in the past years. In addition, the share of new immigrants from Africa also increased. “Together, immigrants, Indigenous people and their descendants have helped shape Canada as it is known today,” Statistics Canada pointed out.

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2021 Census: Highlights

– Canada’s population growth was driven by immigrants admitted from 2016 to 2021

Despite fewer immigrants being admitted during COVID, over 1.3 million recent immigrants were permanently admitted from January 1, 2016, to May 11, 2021. This is the highest number of recent immigrants recorded in a Canadian census.

– More than half of recent immigrants were admitted under the economic category

In 2021, more than half (56.3%) of recent immigrants living in Canada were admitted under the economic category as the principal applicant or dependent. Of these 748,120 economic immigrants, just over one-third (34.5%) were selected through skilled worker programs and another one-third (33.6%) through the Provincial Nominee Program.

– Largest proportion of new immigrants came from India

For the first time, India took the top spot as the primary place of birth of new immigrants to Canada, followed by the Philippines (11.4%) and China (8.9%). The last time that such a high proportion of immigrants came from a single place of birth was during the 1971 Census, when 20.9% of all recent immigrants came from the United Kingdom. But, the share of recent immigrants from Europe continued to decline, falling from 61.6% in 1971 to 10.1% in 2021.

– More recent immigrants settled outside of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver

In 2021, 92.2% of Canada’s recent immigrants lived in one of Canada’s census metropolitan areas (CMAs). As has been the case for over the last 50 years, Toronto (29.5%), Montreal (12.2%), and Vancouver (11.7%) continued to welcome most recent newcomers to Canada in 2021. However, the share settling in these three cities fell from 56.0% in 2016 to 53.4% in 2021.  The most pronounced decrease was in Montréal, where the share went from 14.8% in 2016 to 12.2% in 2021.

– There were over 450 mother tongues reported in the 2021 census

In 2021, 69.4% of recent immigrants do not speak English or French as their mother tongue. Most immigrants who do not arrive in Canada speaking an official language, reported speaking Arabic (10.3%), Tagalog (8.4%), Mandarin (7.9%), and Punjabi (6.5%).  

<<The 10 most spoken (non-official) languages ​​in Canada>>

Still, almost one in four new immigrants reported speaking English as their first language. These immigrants are most often from India (20.5%), the Philippines (12.5%), the United States (10.3%) and Nigeria (10.2%).

Immigrants who speak French as their native language make up 6.5% of recent immigrants. Just over 30% are from France, followed by Cameroon (11.5%), Côte d’Ivoire (8.4%), Algeria (5.8%) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.7%). 

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