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2006 Census: Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-born Population, 2006 Census: Highlights

  • The 2006 Census enumerated 6,186,950 foreign-born in Canada, representing virtually one in five (19.8%) of the total population. This is the highest proportion in 75 years.
  • Between 2001 and 2006, Canada's foreign-born population increased by 13.6%. This was four times higher than the Canadian-born population, which grew by 3.3% during the same period.
  • At 19.8%, Canada had a higher proportion of foreign-born than the United States of America (12.5%) and lower than Australia (22.2%).
  • The census estimated that 1,110,000 recent immigrants came to Canada between January 1, 2001 and May 16, 2006. These newcomers made up 17.9% of the total foreign-born population, and 3.6% of Canada's 31.2 million total population.
  • Recent immigrants born in Asia (including the Middle East) made up the largest proportion of newcomers to Canada in 2006 (58.3%). This proportion was virtually unchanged from 59.4% in 2001.In contrast, in 1971, only 12.1% of recent immigrants for this period were born in Asia (including the Middle East).
  • Newcomers born in Europe made up the second-largest group (16.1%) of recent immigrants in 2006. Europe used to be the main source region of immigrants. In 1971, they accounted for 61.6% of newcomers to Canada.
  • An estimated 10.8% of recent immigrants were born in Central and South America and the Caribbean, up from 8.9% in 2001. Another 10.6% newcomers to Canada in 2006 were born in Africa, also up from 8.3% in 2001.
  • A majority (70.2%) of the foreign-born population in 2006 reported a mother tongue other than English or French. Among these individuals, the largest proportion, one in five (18.6%), reported Chinese languages. It was followed by Italian (6.6%), Punjabi (5.9%), Spanish (5.8%), German (5.4%), Tagalog (4.8%) and Arabic (4.7%).
  • Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver were home to 68.9% of the recent immigrants in 2006. In contrast, slightly over one-third (34.4%) of Canada's total population lived in these three census metropolitan areas.
  • There were some signs that recent immigrants are choosing to settle in smaller metropolitan areas. Individually, 5.2% of recent immigrants had settled in Calgary, 2.9% chose Edmonton and 2.2% chose Winnipeg. These were all increases from 2001. Another 3.2% of recent immigrants had settled in Ottawa - Gatineau, a slight decline from 4% in 2001.
  • The majority (85.1%) of the foreign-born who were eligible for Canadian citizenship in 2006 had become naturalized.
  • The census enumerated 863,100 individuals, or 2.8% of the population, who reported a Canadian citizenship and at least one other citizenship. Most of them (80.2%) were foreign-born.

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