Erin Conway-Smith, Globe and Mail (Toronto), Jul. 16
Toronto has the second-largest proportion of foreign-born
residents of any city in the world, a new UN report says: Almost half of the
people who live there were born outside Canada.
The annual United Nations survey also shows that
Canada improved its standing on the human-development index, placing fourth
among 176 countries, four spots higher than last year.
The index takes into account such factors as life
expectancy, adult literacy, health, education and gross domestic product.
Canada moved up in the rating because it improved
slightly in the category of per capita gross domestic product and in the GDP
and education indexes. Iceland dropped from second to seventh place, and the
U.S. slid from seventh to eighth.
With 44 per cent of Torontonians born outside
of Canada, the city came second only to Miami, at 59 per cent, on a list of
the top 10 cities by share of foreign-born people.
Los Angeles, at 41 per cent, and Vancouver, at
37 per cent, rounded out the top four on the list, beating cities such as New
York, Sydney and London, which are typically considered among the most diverse
in the world.
You could come from anywhere in the world
and feel comfortable here, Sandra Bussin, Torontos deputy mayor,
said yesterday after hearing the ranking.
That people from many different nationalities
and backgrounds can live in one city, in harmony, is a major achievement.
The data used to compile the list come from international
sources, including Statistics Canada and the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to the 2001 Census in Canada, the metropolitan
Toronto census area included about 2 million people born outside Canada, from
a total population of 4.7 million.
The City of Torontos website says the largest
groups of immigrants to Toronto in the five years before the 2001 census were
from China (45,901), India (25,560) and Pakistan (17,495). The website says
more than 90 different ethnic groups are represented in the city.
Torontos wide-ranging ethnic makeup differentiates
the city from first-place Miami, where most of the foreign-born are from Cuba.
According to 2002 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 96 per cent of foreign-born
people in Miami are from Latin America, although a further breakdown wasnt
Tomas Regalado, a City of Miami commissioner,
said that of the 2.5 million people living in the greater Miami area, about
800,000 are Cuban. Other sizable ethnic groups include Nicaraguans and Haitians,
which he estimated at about 300,000 and 150,000 people.
Its geography: Its easy to get
here, he said, explaining why the city attracts so many people born in
Miamis mayor, Manuel Diaz, said in a statement
that he considers diversity his citys most remarkable characteristic.
Vancouvers mayor expected his city to place
higher in the ranking. Im surprised were fourth, Larry
He said the predominant ethnic groups in Vancouver
are Chinese-Canadians and Indo-Canadians, although he added that many other
nations are represented.
Mr. Campbell said that immigrants arent
expected to assimilate when they move to Canada, but rather to add their cultures
into the mix.
Im sure that [Toronto Mayor] David
Miller would say the same thing; the reason we are great cities is because of
This years UN human development report is
focused on the theme of cultural liberty in a diverse world. Driven by
globalization, the number of immigrants soared in the last decade, especially
to the high-income countries of Western Europe, North America and Australia,
the report said.
It added that more immigrants are keeping close
ties with their countries of origin through the Internet and low-cost air travel.
Norway placed first on the UNs annual human-development
index, followed by Sweden, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands.
Top marks for Canada
Top rankings of countries by the United Nations
Human Development Report, 2004
Top cities by share of foreign-born population,
Los Angeles: 41%
New York: 36%