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Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-born Population, 2006 Census: Portraits of major metropolitan centres

Toronto: Canada's major immigrant gateway

The census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto is still the major gateway for immigrants in Canada.

The census enumerated 2,320,200 foreign-born people in Toronto in 2006, the largest number of any metropolitan area in the nation. Between 2001 and 2006, the foreign-born population grew by 14.1%, compared to 4.6% for the Canadian-born population.

The foreign-born population accounted for 45.7% of the CMA's total population of 5,072,100, up from 43.7% in 2001. (Toronto is the largest CMA in Canada, stretching from Ajax and Pickering on the east to Milton on the west and New Tecumseth and Georgina on the north.)

Four in every 10 new immigrants settled in the Toronto region

More foreign-born people settled in the Toronto CMA between 2001 and 2006 than in any other metropolitan area.
Of the total of 1,110,000 foreign-born people who arrived in Canada during this five-year period, an estimated 447,900, or 40.4%, chose Toronto. This share was down slightly from the 43.1% of newcomers who settled in Toronto in 2001. These new immigrants made up 8.8% of Toronto's total population in 2006.

The top two source countries for recent immigrants to Toronto were Asian. In 2006, India surpassed the People's Republic of China as the number one source country of immigrants settling in Toronto.

About 77,800 newcomers from India, 17.4% of all newcomers, settled in the Toronto metropolitan area. In addition, the census enumerated 63,900 newcomers, 14.3% of the total, from the People's Republic of China. Combined, these two countries accounted for nearly one-third of all newcomers in the Toronto metropolitan area.

The new arrivals had a major impact on the metropolitan area's workforce. An estimated 253,600, just over one-half (56.6%), were in the prime working years, aged 25 to 54. They made up 10.8% of this age group in 2006.

Of the 789,400 school-aged children who were between 5 and 16 years old in the Toronto metropolitan area, recent immigrants made up 10.5%. Among these school-aged children, 54.9% reported speaking a non-official language most often at home.

Growth strongest in municipalities surrounding the City of Toronto

The City of Toronto was home to the largest number of foreign-born people in 2006. However, most of the growth in the foreign-born population occurred in the municipalities surrounding the city.

For example, Brampton's foreign-born population increased by 59.5% during the past five years. In 2006, the foreign-born population comprised 47.8% of Brampton's total population of 431,600, up from 39.9% in 2001.

In Markham, the foreign-born population grew 34.1% between 2001 and 2006. In fact, in 2006, more than half (56.5%) of its 260,800 residents were born outside Canada.

Mississauga has the second-largest population among the municipalities that make up the Toronto CMA. In 2006, just over one-half (51.6%) of the total population of 665,700 residents were born outside Canada.

Ajax, Aurora and Vaughan also saw increases of more than 40% in the foreign-born population between 2001 and 2006. The foreign-born made up nearly half (44.9%) of the population in Vaughan in 2006. In Ajax, 30.7% were born outside of Canada, while in Aurora, 22.4% of the population was foreign-born.

More than 1 million foreign-born in the City of Toronto

An estimated 267,900 recent immigrants settled in the City of Toronto, according to the census.

These newcomers accounted for about one-fifth (21.6%) of the total of 1,237,700 foreign-born people living in the city in 2006. Another 3 in 10 had arrived in this country in the 1990s.

While the City of Toronto still attracted the largest share of all recent arrivals to the metropolitan area, this proportion has dropped over the past few years. Between 2001 and 2006, the city attracted 59.8% of new immigrants, down from 67.5% during the previous five years, and 71.5% between 1991 and 1996.

More than two-thirds (68.5%) of newcomers in 2006 to the City of Toronto were born in Asian countries. The top five source countries of these recent immigrants were the People's Republic of China, India, the Philippines, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Chinese, including the different dialects, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, was reported by 17.3% of the newcomers as the language most often spoken at home. Another 4.8% of newcomers spoke Urdu most often at home.

Among the newcomers in the City of Toronto, about one-quarter (24%) spoke English most often at home. However, 1 in 10 reported that they did not have knowledge of either English or French.

Working-aged newcomers (between 25 and 54 years old) accounted for 58.7% of all recent immigrants who had resided in Toronto during the past five years.

In addition, 47,400 school-aged newcomers settled in the City of Toronto between 2001 and 2006. They accounted for 14.3% of all school-aged children in the city.

Markham: Second-highest proportion of foreign-born among Canadian municipalities

In 2006, 56.5% of the population in Markham was foreign-born. Only the City of Richmond in the Vancouver census metropolitan area (CMA) had a higher proportion of foreign-born in Canada. The foreign-born accounted for 57.4% of Richmond's population.

A total of 18,900 newcomers who came to Canada between 2001 and 2006 chose to live in Markham. They represented just under 1 in 10 (7.2%) residents of Markham's in 2006.

Recent immigrants in Markham are adding to the already diverse population. In 2006, the vast majority (84.3%) of newcomers were born in Asia and the Middle East. All top five source countries were in Asia: the People's Republic of China, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Fully 8% of school-aged children 5 to 16 years in Markham were recent immigrants to Canada. About one-quarter of them reported Chinese as a language spoken most often at home.

Mississauga: Majority were born outside of Canada

Mississauga has taken in an increasing share of recent immigrants over the past decade. In 2001, 14.5% of all newcomers in the Toronto metropolitan area lived in Mississauga. The share grew to 16.7% of new immigrants in 2006. In comparison, 13.1% of the total population in the Toronto metropolitan area lived in Mississauga in 2006.

As a result, the proportion of the foreign-born population in Mississauga increased from just less than half (46.8%) in 2001 to just over half (51.6%) in 2006.

Mississauga is home to foreign-born people who come from all corners of the world. In 2006, the top five countries of birth of recent immigrants there were India, Pakistan, the Philippines, the People's Republic of China and South Korea. This pattern of migration is reflected in the diversity of the communities in Mississauga. 

Brampton: Increasing share of recent immigrants

In 2006, close to one-half (47.8%) of the population in Brampton, or 206,200 individuals, was born outside of Canada. This was up from 39.9% five years ago in 2001.

The increase in the proportion of the foreign-born is largely a result of the number of recent immigrants settling in Brampton. A total of 42,900 recent immigrants came to Canada between 2001 and 2006 chose to live in Brampton.

In 2006, 9.6% of all newcomers to the Toronto metropolitan area lived in Brampton. Just 5 years prior, in 2001, Brampton was home to 5% of all recent immigrants to the Toronto area.

Recent immigrants to Brampton came from all over the world, but most (77.4%) were born in Asia and the Middle East. In fact, two-thirds of all recent immigrants there came from just three countries: India, Pakistan and the Philippines. Jamaica and Nigeria were also among the top source countries for newcomers to Brampton.

The vast majority (95.7%) of Brampton's population reported knowledge of English or French. The small proportion that did not have knowledge of one of the official languages was mainly made up of recent immigrants who had arrived within five years.

About 3 in 10 said that they spoke Punjabi most often at home. The use of Punjabi reflects the high number of recent immigrants from India and Pakistan who settled in Brampton.

Toronto CMA. Recent immigrant population in 1981 to 2006 censuses by 2006 Census Tracts (CTs)

Toronto CMA. Recent immigrants as a percentage of total population by 2006 Census Tracts (CTs): Map 1 of 2

Toronto CMA. Recent immigrants as a percentage of total population by 2006 Census Tracts (CTs): Map 2 of 2

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