The ethnocultural diversity of the Canadian population
Ethonocultural diversity from one generation to the next
Ethnocultural diversity in census metropolitan areas (CMAs)

The ethnocultural diversity of the Canadian population

  • Approximately three Canadians in ten (between 29% and 32%) could be a member of a visible minority group in 2031, regardless of the projection scenario. Canada would then have between 11.4 million and 14.4 million visible minority persons.
  • The visible minority population would be over-represented in the younger age groups. Thus, according to the reference scenario for these projections, 36% of the population under 15 years of age in 2031 would belong to a visible minority group, compared to 18% of persons aged 65 and over.
  • In 2031, among all the visible minority groups, South Asians and Chinese should still be the largest visible minority groups in Canada. The South Asian population would number between 3.2 million and 4.1 million in 2031, compared to 1.3 million in 2006. The Chinese population would go from 1.3 million in 2006 to between 2.4 million and 3.0 million in 2031.
  • Arabs and West Asians are the visible minority groups that would grow the fastest between 2006 and 2031. Depending on the scenario, Canada's Arab population would thus number between 806,000 and 1.1 million in 2031 and its West Asian population, between 457,000 and 592,000, compared to 276,000 and 164,000 respectively, in 2006.
  • The number of persons having a non-Christian religion would more than double by 2031, reaching between 5.3 million and 6.8 million in 2031 compared to an estimated number of 2.5 million in 2006. From 8% of the population in 2006, the proportion that they represent would rise to approximately 14% in 2031.
  • Within the population having a non-Christian religion, approximately one person in two would be a Muslim in 2031, whereas the corresponding proportion in 2006 was estimated at 35%.
  • According to the scenarios developed for these projections, fewer than two Canadians in three would have a Christian religion in 2031. Three Canadians in four (75%) had a Christian religion in 2006. The corresponding proportion in 1981 was 97%.
  • Persons whose mother tongue was neither English nor French accounted for less than 10% of Canada's population in 1981. By 2006, that proportion had risen to 20%, and the projections indicate that it would reach between 29% and 32% in 2031.

Ethonocultural diversity from one generation to the next

  • Depending on the projections chosen, the proportion of persons who are foreign-born would reach between 25% and 28% in 2031, a record in Canada since Confederation. In 2006, the corresponding proportion was 20%
  • If immigration were to continue to come mostly from non-European countries, the population of foreign-born persons residing in Canada would continue to change over the next 25 years. In 2031, the percentage of visible minorities who were foreign-born would reach 71%, the percentage of allophones more than 77% while the percentage of persons having a non-Christian religion would be approximately 32%. The corresponding proportions were respectively 54%, 70% and 24% in 2006.
  • According to the reference scenario, in 2031 nearly one Canadian in two (46%) aged 15 and over would be foreign-born or would have at least one foreign-born parent, compared to 39% in 2006.
  • Under the combined effect of the fertility of immigrants and their Canadian-born children and the intergenerational transmission of certain characteristics—e.g., belonging to a visible minority group, mother tongue and religious denomination—the diversity related to these characteristics would also be likely to increase substantially within the Canadian-born population in the coming decades.
  • According to the projection scenarios chosen, the proportion of visible minority persons, those having a non-Christian religion and those with neither English nor French as their mother tongue is likely to approximately double within the Canadian-born population between 2006 and 2031.
  • Within two decades, nearly one Canadian-born person in two (47%) belonging to the second generation (the generation of children of immigrants) would belong to a visible minority group, compared to 24% in 2006.
  • Within the third or higher generations (those consisting of persons born in Canada of Canadian-born parents), the proportion belonging to visible minorities, although low, would almost triple, going from 1% in 2006 to 3% in 2031.

Ethnocultural diversity in census metropolitan areas (CMAs)

  • New Canadian immigrants' propensity to settle in metropolitan areas, along with their birth rate, has contributed, in recent decades, to the concentration of ethnocultural diversity in metropolitan areas.
  • Almost all persons belonging to a visible minority group (96%) would continue to live in one of the 33 census metropolitan areas between now and 2031. More than 71% of all visible minority persons would live in Canada's three largest CMAs: Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal.
  • Approximately 55% of persons living in CMAs in 2031 would be either immigrants or the Canadian-born children of immigrants. In Toronto and Vancouver, these proportions would reach 78% and 70%, respectively. They would be at most 10% in the St. John's, Saguenay and Trois-RivièresCMAs.
  • According to these projections, approximately three persons in five would belong to a visible minority group in the Toronto and Vancouver CMAs in 2031. The corresponding proportion would be no more than 5% in the St. John's, Greater Sudbury, Trois-Rivières, Québec and Saguenay CMAs.
  • Nearly one person in four (24%) living in the Toronto CMA in 2031 would belong to the South Asian visible minority group, which would continue to be the largest visible minority group in this CMA. The number of South Asians living there would be approximately 2.1 million.
  • In 2031, Chinese would be the largest visible minority group in the Vancouver CMA. With a population of approximately 809,000, this group would account for approximately 23% of the population of this CMA, compared to 18% in 2006.
  • In the MontréalCMA, visible minority persons would account for about three persons in ten (31%), up from 16 % in 2006, but this proportion would remain considerably lower than the corresponding proportions in Toronto and Vancouver.
  • By 2031, the population of the Arab visible minority group would almost reach the Black population in the MontréalCMA. Each of these groups would then account for close to 8% of the total population of this CMA.
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