Characteristics of Canada's newest immigrants
Asia and Europe are the leading sources of new immigrants
Between October 2000 and September 2001 an estimated 164,200 immigrants aged 15 years and older landed in Canada from abroad as permanent residents.
Consistent with trends shown by immigration data from the 2001 Census, released January 2003, the majority of these newcomers (68%) were born in Asia, including the Middle East. Another 15% were from Europe, 9% from Africa and 6% from Central and South America and the Caribbean.
The People’s Republic of China was the leading country of birth, contributing 32,300 new immigrants to Canada. This was followed by India (25,800), the Philippines (11,300) and Pakistan (8,400).
Of these 164,200 immigrants, 66% were in the prime working-age group of 25 to 44 years. This was almost double the 38% of the Canadian-born population aged 15 years and older who were in the same age group at the time of the 2001 Census.
Economic immigrants comprised two-thirds of new immigrants
In general, immigrants entered Canada under three main classes: economic-class immigrants, family-class immigrants and refugees.
Of the immigrants included in the LSIC, economic-class immigrants made up the largest proportion (67%). The economic class comprised 56% principal applicants and 44% spouses and dependents (see survey methodology).
Principal applicants in the economic class were more likely to be men. Of the 61,600 immigrants in this category, 77% were men. Immigrant women who were admitted under the economic class were more likely to be admitted as a spouse or a dependent. Women made up 75% of the 47,900 individuals in the category of economic-class spouse or dependent.
Family-class immigrants represented about 27% of the target population included in the LSIC who landed in Canada from abroad during this period. Of these 44,100 immigrants, 6 of every 10 were women.
The smallest proportion of new arrivals, about 6%, were admitted under the refugee class. Of these 9,800 immigrants admitted on humanitarian grounds, half were men and half women.
High proportion of newcomers have university education
Overall, new immigrants who arrived in Canada during the year-long period were highly educated. Over half (55%) reported having a university education. The proportion was even higher among newcomers who were aged between 25 and 44 years (69%), more than three times the 22% of the Canadian-born population in the same age group in 2001.
Economic-class principal applicants were selected for admittance to Canada on the basis of their labour market qualifications. Therefore, the majority (84%) of these principal applicants had a university degree, while 87% were in the prime working-age group of 25 to 44 years.
Most immigrants reported knowledge of at least one official language
A majority (82%) of new immigrants reported that they were able to converse well in at least one of Canada’s two official languages when they arrived. Most of those individuals who had skills in an official language were in the prime working-age group of 25 to 44 years (88%) and were university educated (92%).
Still, 18% of the 164,200 immigrants were unable to converse in either English or French when they settled in Canada. This was partly because of the high proportion of immigrants from non-English- and non-French-speaking countries.
Immigrants who could not speak either official language on arrival tended to be older. Four in 10 immigrants aged 45 and 64 years could not speak English or French, nor could 6 in 10 seniors aged 65 years and older.
As well, women were more likely than men to have little knowledge of the official languages. About 23% of women couldn’t converse in English or French, compared with 13% of men.
Vast majority of newcomers planned to become Canadian citizens
The vast majority of new immigrants reported that they had only one country in mind when they chose to leave their homeland: Canada. Virtually all (98%) of those who came during the year-long period did not apply to immigrate to any other country.
Many immigrated for economic reasons; some came to reunite with their family. Others did not come by choice, but had to leave their homeland as refugees. The one thing that most immigrants had in common was the fact that they planned to make Canada their home. The vast majority (91%) expressed their intent to settle here permanently and become Canadian citizens.
Some six months after arriving in Canada, immigrants were making progress in building a new life in Canada. In fact, 73% of immigrants were satisfied with their new life in Canada. Only 9% were not satisfied with their experience and the remaining 18% reported being neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their new lives.
Most immigrants (85%) had made new friends since coming to Canada, especially with people from the same cultural background as themselves. In fact, 63% reported that all or most of their new friends were from the same ethnic group. As well, 47% of the immigrants reported that they wanted to bring their relatives to Canada by sponsoring their immigration.