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The Lebanese Community in Canada

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Almost half are foreign-born
Most live in two provinces
Montreal home to a large Lebanese population
Age distribution
Slightly more men than women
Almost all can converse in an official language
Religion
Family status
Education
Employment
Unemployment
Income
Over one in four with low icomes
Almost all feel a sense of belonging to Canada

A growing community

As of 2001, there were almost 144,000 people of Lebanese origin1 living in Canada. That year, the Lebanese population was the 6th largest non-European ethnic group in the country. The Lebanese population in Canada is also growing considerably faster than the overall population. Between 1996 and 2001, for example, the number of people who said they had Lebanese origins rose by 9%, while the overall population grew by only 4%.

Table 1 Selected ethnic groups in Canada, other than English, French and Canadian, 2001. Opens a new browser window.

Table 1
Selected ethnic groups in Canada, other than English, French and Canadian, 2001

The majority of Canadians with Lebanese ethnic roots say they have only Lebanese origins. In 2001, 65% of all those who reported Lebanese origins said they had only Lebanese roots, while 35% said they had other ethnic origins. In contrast, almost 40% of the overall Canadian population reported they had multiple ethnic roots.

Almost half are foreign-born

Just about half of the Lebanese population currently living in Canada was born outside the country. In fact, in 2001, 49% of all those who indicated they had Lebanese origins had been born outside the country, while the remaining 51% were born in Canada.

As well, the majority of immigrant Canadians of Lebanese origin are relatively recent arrivals. Of all immigrants of Lebanese origin living in Canada in 2001, 37% had arrived here between 1991 and 2001, while another 36% had come to Canada in the 1980s. In contrast, only 10% had come to Canada before 1971.

Most live in two provinces

The Lebanese population in Canada is concentrated primarily in Ontario and Quebec. In 2001, 41% of the Lebanese population in Canada lived in Ontario, while another 34% resided in Quebec. At the same time, there were somewhat smaller Lebanese communities in Alberta, which accounted for 12% of the overall Lebanese population, Nova Scotia (5%), British Columbia (4%) and New Brunswick (2%).

In terms of actual numbers, there were a total of 59,000 Canadians of Lebanese origin living in Ontario in 2001, while there were 49,000 in Quebec, 18,000 in Alberta, 7,000 in Nova Scotia, 6,000 in British Columbia and 2,000 in New Brunswick. At the same time, there were smaller Lebanese communities in the other provinces and territories.

Table 2. The Lebanese population in Canada, by province and territory, 2001. Opens a new browser window.

Table 2
The Lebanese population in Canada, by province and territory, 2001

Montreal home to a large Lebanese population

The largest Lebanese community in Canada is in the Montreal census metropolitan area. In 2001, almost 44,000 people of Lebanese origin made Montreal their home. Indeed, Montreal was home to 30% of all Canadians of Lebanese origin that year. At the same time, there were just fewer than 20,000 Lebanese people, 14% of the total, living in Toronto, while there were a similar number of Lebanese people residing in Ottawa.

Lebanese people account for a larger share of the population of Ottawa than that of any other census metropolitan area across the country. In 2001, people of Lebanese origin made up 2% of the total population of the national capital region. At the same time, people of Lebanese origin also made up more than 1% of the total populations of both Montreal and Halifax, while the figure was close to 1% in both Calgary and Edmonton. In contrast, people of Lebanese origin made up less than 1% of the overall population in all other census metropolitan areas across the country. In Toronto, for example, people of Lebanese origin made up less than a half a per cent of the total population that year.

Age distribution

The Lebanese population in Canada is relatively young. In 2001, children under the age of 15 made up 29% of all Canadians with Lebanese origins, whereas children made up only 19% of the overall population. Similarly, 16% of the population with Lebanese origins, versus 13% of all Canadians, were aged 15 to 24.

Table 3. Age distribution of the Lebanese community and overall Canadian population, 2001. Opens a new browser window.

Table 3
Age distribution of the Lebanese community and overall Canadian population, 2001

In contrast, Canadians of Lebanese origin are considerably less likely than those in the overall population to be either seniors or approaching retirement age. In 2001, people aged 65 and over made up only 7% of the Lebanese population, whereas seniors made up 12% of all Canadians. Similarly, only 17% of the Lebanese population was between the ages of 45 and 64, compared with 24% of the overall population.

Slightly more men than women

In contrast to the overall population, there are more men of Lebanese origin than women living in Canada. In 2001, 52% of the Lebanese population was male, whereas men made up just 49% of all Canadians. As with the overall population, though, women make up the majority of seniors in the Lebanese population. In 2001, 52% of people aged 65 and over of Lebanese origin were women, while in the overall population women made up 56% of seniors.

Almost all can converse in an official language

Almost all Canadians of Lebanese origin can speak at least one official language2. In 2001, 97% of all those who reported they had Lebanese ethnic roots could conduct a conversation in either English or French. That year, 51% could converse only in English, while 37% were bilingual and 8% could converse only in French. In fact, Canadians of Lebanese origin are about twice as likely as the overall population to be bilingual. At the same time, only 3% of the Lebanese population in Canada could not converse in either English or French.

While most Canadians of Lebanese origin can speak at least one official language, just over half have a mother tongue3 other than English or French. In 2001, 51% of the Lebanese population said that their mother tongue was a non-official language.

A substantial number of Canadians of Lebanese origin also speak a language other than English or French at home. In 2001, 29% of people who identified themselves as having Lebanese ethnic roots said that a non-official language was the only language spoken in their home. At the same time, another 8% said that they spoke another language in combination with either English or French in their home.

On the other hand, very few employed Canadians of Lebanese origin speak a language other than English and French on the job. In 2001, just 2% of all Canadians of Lebanese origin with jobs primarily spoke a language other than English or French at work, while a another 2% regularly used a non-official language in combination with English or French on the job.

Religion

The majority of Canadians of Lebanese origin are Christian. In 2001, 42% of the Lebanese community in Canada said they were Catholic, while 11% belonged to a Christian Orthodox sect and another 10% belonged to a Protestant denomination or other Christian group. At the same time, 30% of people with Lebanese origins in Canada said they were Muslim.

On the other hand, relatively few people of Lebanese origin have no religious affiliation. In 2001, just 6% of the Lebanese population said they had no religious affiliation, compared with 17% of the overall population.

Family status

Canadians of Lebanese origin are somewhat more likely than other people to be married. In 2001, 54% of the Lebanese population aged 15 and over was married, compared with 50% of all adult Canadians. On the other hand, Canadians of Lebanese origin are considerably less likely than other Canadian adults to live in a common-law relationship. In 2001, just 4% of the Lebanese population aged 15 and over were living common-law, compared with 10% of all Canadian adults.

Table 4. Family status of the Lebanese community and overall population aged 15 and over, by sex, 2001. Opens a new browser window.

Table 4
Family status of the Lebanese community and overall population aged 15 and over, by sex, 2001

People of Lebanese origin are about as likely as other Canadians to be lone parents. In 2001, 5% of the adult Lebanese population were lone parents, while the figure for the overall population was 6%. As with the overall population, though, the large majority of lone parents with Lebanese origins are women. In the Lebanese population, women represented 83% of all lone parents in 2001, while the figure in the overall population that year was 81%.

Canadians of Lebanese origin are generally less likely than others to live alone. In 2001, 8% of the Lebanese population aged 15 and over lived alone, compared to 13% of all adult Canadians. This was also the case for seniors of Lebanese origin. In 2001, 21% of people of Lebanese origin aged 65 and over lived alone, compared with 29% of all seniors in Canada. In contrast, seniors of Lebanese origin are more likely than other seniors to live with members of their extended family. In 2001, 11% of seniors of Lebanese origin lived with relatives, such as the family of a son or daughter, whereas this was the case for only 5% of all seniors in Canada.

Education

Canadians of Lebanese origin are somewhat more likely than the rest of the population to have a university degree. In 2001, 21% of Canadians aged 15 and over of Lebanese origin were university graduates, compared with 15% of the overall adult population.

Table 5. Educational attainment of the Lebanese community and overall Canadian population aged 15 and over, by sex, 2001. Opens a new browser window.

Table 5
Educational attainment of the Lebanese community and overall Canadian population aged 15 and over, by sex, 2001

People of Lebanese origin living in Canada are also somewhat more likely than their counterparts in the overall population to have post-graduate training.  In 2001, 7% of people aged 15 and over who identified themselves as Lebanese had a post-graduate degree, compared to 5% of the overall adult population. As well, university graduates with Lebanese origins are about twice as likely as all graduates to have degrees in highly technical fields.

As in the overall population, men of Lebanese origin are somewhat better educated than women with Lebanese ethnic roots. In 2001, 24% of men of Lebanese origin had a university degree, compared with 18% of their female counterparts. However, both men and women of Lebanese origins were more likely to have university degrees than their respective counterparts in the overall population.

Young people of Lebanese origin are also more likely than other young Canadians to be attending school. In 2001, 66% of the Lebanese population aged 15 to 24 was enrolled in a full-time educational program, compared to 57% of all Canadians in this age group. Among young people of Lebanese origin, males are more likely to be attending school than females. In 2001, 67% of young men of Lebanese origin were enrolled in some form of full-time educational program, compared with 64% of their female counterparts. This contrasts with the overall population, in which young women are considerably more likely to be in school than young men.

Employment

Canadians of Lebanese origin are about as likely as the rest of the population to be employed. In 2001, 60% of all adults with Lebanese ethnic roots were part of the paid work force, while in the overall Canadian population, 62% of all those aged 15 and over were employed.

Table 6. Percentage of the population employed, by age group and sex, 2001. Opens a new browser window.

Table 6
Percentage of the population employed, by age group and sex, 2001

As in the general population, men of Lebanese origin are more likely than their female counterparts to be employed outside the home. In 2001, 70% of men of Lebanese origin aged 15 and over were part of the paid workforce, compared with just 50% of adult women with Lebanese ethnic roots. In fact, men of Lebanese origin are more likely to be employed than men in the overall population, whereas the opposite is true for women of Lebanese origin.

For the most part, the occupational distribution of the Lebanese workforce is similar to that of the overall labour force. Employed Canadians of Lebanese origin, though, are somewhat more likely than other workers to be employed in management positions, scientific and technical occupations, and in sales and service jobs. On the other hand, they are under-represented among people employed in manufacturing jobs.

Canadian workers of Lebanese origin are also less likely than those in the overall workforce to be self-employed. In 2001, 9% of the Lebanese labour force worked for themselves, compared with 12% of all labour force participants in Canada.

Unemployment

Canadians of Lebanese origin are somewhat more likely to be unemployed than their counterparts in the general population. In 2001, 8.9% of labour force participants4 of Lebanese origin were unemployed, compared with a figure of 7.4% for all Canadian workers.

As in the overall population, young Canadians of Lebanese origin experience relatively high unemployment rates. This is especially true for young men. In 2001, 14% of all the male labour force participants of Lebanese origin between the ages of 15 and 24 were unemployed, compared with well under 10% of their counterparts aged 25 and over. The unemployment rate among young men of Lebanese origin, though, was similar to that for all young men in Canada. At the same time, 12% of young women of Lebanese origin were unemployed that year, slightly below that rate for all Canadian females in the same age range.

Income

Canadians of Lebanese origin generally have lower incomes on average than the national population. In 20005, the average income from all sources for Canadians of Lebanese origin aged 15 and over was just over $27,700, about $2,000 less person than the figure for all Canadian adults.

Table 7. Average incomes of the Lebanese community and overall Canadian population, by age group and sex, 2000. Opens a new browser window.

Table 7
Average incomes of the Lebanese community and overall Canadian population, by age group and sex, 2000

As in the overall population, women of Lebanese origin have lower incomes than their male counterparts. In 2000, the average income for women of Lebanese origin aged 15 and over was just over $20,000, while the figure for men with Lebanese ethnic roots was over $34,000. In fact, the income gap between women and men of Lebanese origin is somewhat higher than that in the overall population. In 2000, the incomes of women of Lebanese origin were 59% those of their male counterparts, while the figure in the overall population was 62%.

In contrast, seniors of Lebanese origin living in Canada have higher incomes on average than their counterparts in the overall population. In 2000, the average income from all sources for Canadians of Lebanese origin aged 65 and over was $26,600, more than $2,000 higher than the figure for all seniors in Canada.

As with all seniors in Canada, Lebanese women aged 65 and over living in Canada have lower incomes than their male counterparts. In 2000, the average income for women of Lebanese origins aged 65 and over was just under $22,000, compared with almost $32,000 for men the same age of Lebanese origin. However, the average incomes of both female and male seniors of Lebanese origin were higher than those of their respective counterparts in the overall population.

Canadians of Lebanese origin receive a slightly greater share of their income from earnings6 than does the overall population. In 2000, Canadians of Lebanese origin reported that 81% of their income came from earnings, while for all Canadian adults the figure was 77%.

At the same time, Canadians of Lebanese origin receive about the same share of their total income from government transfer programs, such as Employment Insurance, Old Age Security and the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans, as other people. In 2000, 11% of the income of Canadians of Lebanese origin came from government transfers, while the average for all Canadian adults was 12%.

Over one in four with low incomes

On average, Canadians of Lebanese origin are more likely than the rest of the population to have incomes that fall below Statistics Canada’s Low-income Cut-offs. In 2000, the incomes of 28% of the Lebanese population in Canada were below the Low-income Cut-offs, whereas the figure in the total Canadian population was 16%.

Children of Lebanese origin living in Canada are also more likely than other children to live in a low-income family. In 2000, 33% of children of Lebanese origin under the age of 15 lived in families with incomes below the Low-income Cut-offs, compared with 19% of all children in Canada.

Unattached Canadian adults of Lebanese origin are also very likely to have low incomes. In 2000, 44% of unattached people of Lebanese origin aged 15 and over had low incomes, compared with 38% of their counterparts in the overall population.

Seniors of Lebanese origin who live alone are particularly likely to have low incomes. In 2000, 53% of seniors of Lebanese origin aged 65 and over who were unattached had incomes below the Low-income Cut-offs, whereas the figure among all unattached Canadian seniors was 40%.

Unattached female seniors of Lebanese origin are more likely than their male counterparts and other unattached Canadian women to have low incomes. In 2000,  55% of unattached women of Lebanese origin aged 65 and over had incomes below the Low-income Cut-offs, compared with 46% of unattached male seniors of Lebanese origin, and 43% of all unattached women aged 65 and over in Canada.

Almost all feel a sense of belonging to Canada

According to the Ethnic Diversity Survey, a large majority of Canadians of Lebanese origin have a strong sense of belonging in Canada. In 2002, 89% of all those aged 15 and over reporting they had Lebanese ethnic roots said they had a strong sense of belonging to Canada. At the same time, 50% said that they had a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group.

Canadians of Lebanese origin are also involved in Canadian society. For example, around seven out of ten of all those of Lebanese origin eligible to vote did so in the last federal and provincial elections. At the same time, over one third (36%) of all Lebanese in Canada participated in an organization such as a sports team or church in the 12 months preceding the Ethnic Diversity Survey.

Nearly one quarter (23%) of Canadians of Lebanese origin has experienced discrimination or unfair treatment based on their ethnicity, race, religion, language or accent in the past five years, or since they arrived in Canada. A majority of those who had experienced discrimination said that they felt it was based on their race or skin colour.

Summary table. Opens a new browser window.

Summary table

Notes:


  1. All statistical information in this publication referring to Lebanese, the Lebanese community, Canadians of Lebanese origin or people of Lebanese origin denotes people who reported Lebanese origins, either alone or in combination with other origins, in response to the question on ethnic origin in the 2001 Census or 2002 Ethnic Diversity Survey.


  2. English and French are recognized as Canada’s official languages in the Official Languages Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


  3. A mother tongue is the language that a person learns first in childhood and that they still understand.


  4. Includes those who are unemployed as well as those who are unemployed but looking for work.


  5. In the Census, people report their income for the previous year.


  6. Includes wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


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