Visible Minorities Pass 5-Million Mark For First Time

CTV, April 2, 2008

New census data released Wednesday shows visible minorities in Canada have grown at a staggering rate, surpassing the five million mark.

The data, released by Statistics Canada, shows surging immigration from Asia has resulted in visible minorities now comprising 16 per cent of Canada’s population—an increase of 27 per cent between 2001 and 2006.

Since 2001, three-quarters of Canada’s new immigrants have been visible minorities, and the total now sits at 5,068,100, the census shows.

“We’re seeing for the first time with this census that the South East Asians actually surpass Chinese as the largest minority group,” Statistics Canada’s Rosemary Bender told CTV News on Wednesday.

Immigration lawyer Ravi Jain told CTV’s Canada AM Wednesday morning he’s not surprised that the number of South Asian immigrants—those hailing from Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan—is on the rise, with the highest number coming from India.

“There’s a real explanation here that makes sense,” he said.

“India of course is a former Commonwealth country. English is a dominant language and education is emphasized—the same thing as China in terms of education.”

South Asians now make up about one-quarter of the visible minority population in Canada, translating to about 4 per cent (nearly 1.3 million) of the country’s population.

Those with Chinese roots make up about another quarter (some 1.2 million) of the total visible minority population.

Following those two ethnic groups are those identifying themselves as black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean and Japanese, to make up the Top 10 visible minorities.

But Jain said most of Canada’s new immigrants still end up clustered around Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal—a trend that he suggests can be addressed through better workplace integration.

According to the census, 96 per cent of the visible minority population live in a metropolitan area. That’s in sharp contrast to the 68 per cent of the total population that live in major cities.

Jain said there should be more of a push to attract immigrants to places like Alberta, where there is a dramatic shortfall of workers and jobs are readily available.

“That will send the message that the provinces that do that—Alberta and others that aren’t reflective of these major cities—they will draw in the immigrants and then we’ll see more diversity besides Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver,” he said.

More than 200 different ethnic origins were reported in the 2006 census, StatsCan reports. That marks a steep increase over the past century. In the 1901 census, only 25 different ethnic groups were recorded. The largest share of the population at that time was people reporting Aboriginal, British and French origins.

Among the newer ethnic groups added to the list in 2006 were those from Montserrat in the Caribbean, and Chad, Gabon, Gambia and Zambia in Africa.

The study, dubbed Canada’s Ethnocultural Mosaic, 2006 Census, shows Canada’s visible minority population has been steadily growing over the past quarter-century:

* 1981: 1.1 million visible minorities represented 4.7 per cent of the population;

* 1991: 2.5 million visible minorities accounted for 9.4 per cent of the total population;

* 1996: 3.2 million visible minorities represented 11.2 per cent;

* 2001: 3.98 million visible minorities comprised 13.4 per cent of the total population;

* 2006: 5,068,100 visible minorities account for 16 per cent of the total population.

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