Black History Month... by the numbers

Demography

  • In 2016, close to 1.2 million people in Canada reported being Black.
  • In 20 years, the Black population has doubled in size, going from 573,860 persons in 1996 to 1,198,540 persons in 2016.
  • The Black population now accounts for 3.5% of Canada's total population and 15.6% of the population defined as a visible minority.
  • According to the population projections from Statistics Canada, the Black population could increase in the future and might represent between 5.0% and 5.6% of Canada's population by 2036.
  • The Black population is younger than the total population in Canada. In 2016, the median age for the Black population was 29.6 years, while it was 40.7 years for the total population.
  • Children under 15 years old represented 26.6% of the Black population, while they represented 16.9% of the total population. At the other end of the age spectrum, 7.3% of the Black population were aged 65 years and over, compared to 15.9% of the total population.

Source: Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An overview

Discrimination

  • Based on crowdsourcing data collected in August 2020, Black participants were more than twice as likely as White participants to report that they had experienced discrimination since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Among Black participants who reported experiencing discrimination, 84% reported that they had experienced discrimination related to race or skin colour.
  • According to crowdsourcing data collected in August 2020, about 46% of Black participants had low levels of confidence in the court system, compared with 22% of White participants.

Source: Experiences of discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic

Education

  • Despite an increase since 2001, the proportion of Black women aged 25 to 59 who had a university degree in 2016 was lower than the proportion for the rest of the population.
  • Among women who were born in Canada to at least one foreign-born parent (second generation), Black women were about as likely as other women to have a university degree in 2016.
  • In 2016, the proportion of men with a university degree was lower in the Black population than the rest of the population among both immigrants and the Canadian-born population.

Source: Changes in the socioeconomic situation of Canada's Black population, 2001 to 2016

Education and labour market integration of Black youth in Canada

  • A Statistics Canada study examined the relationship between the characteristics of Black Canadian youth and their families (in 2006), and their educational outcomes ten years later (in 2016). It found that black youth who were between the ages of 9 and 13 in 2006 were as likely as other Canadian youth to have a high school diploma in 2016 (approximately 90%).
  • However, Black youth were less likely than other youth to attain a postsecondary qualification. For example, among Black boys aged 13 to 17 in 2006, approximately half (51%) had a postsecondary qualification in 2016 (when they were aged 23 to 27), compared with 62% of other boys.
  • For most socioeconomic variables associated with more positive educational outcomes, Black youth were at a disadvantage compared with other youth. However, the gap between postsecondary graduation rates for Black youth and other youth remained after accounting for differences in socioeconomic and family characteristics. Other factors not measured by the Census of Population could be the source of these differences.

Source: Results from the 2016 Census: Education and labour market integration of Black youth in Canada

Employment

  • In 2016, the employment rate of Black men aged 25 to 59 was 78%, compared with 83% for other men—a difference of 5 percentage points. The employment rate for Black men was lower than that for other men in the last four censuses (from 2001 to 2016), for both immigrants and Canadian-born men.
  • The employment rate for Black women is comparable overall to that of other women. For example, the employment rate among Black immigrant women was 70% in 2016, the same as that of other immigrant women.
  • In 2016, Black female workers were mostly concentrated in the health care and social assistance sector, as 33% of them had a job in this sector—12 percentage points more than the rest of the employed female population (21%). Among immigrant women, this gap was even wider, as 37% of Black immigrant women worked in the health care and social assistance sector, compared with 19% of other immigrant women.
  • Almost one-third (31.7%) of Black women working in the three months ending in January were employed in the health care and social assistance sector.

Sources:

Housing and family

  • In 2018, just under one-third, representing 29.0% or 382,100 individuals belonging to the black visible minority group, lived in unsuitable housing, meaning that their dwellings had too few bedrooms for the size and composition of their households according to the requirements of the National Occupancy Standard. In comparison, the number of Canadians living in unsuitable housing was 9.4% in 2018.
  • In 2018, the core housing need for individuals belonging to the black visible minority group was higher (15.1%) than that of Canadians (9.0%). As a result, approximately 200,000 (197,500) individuals belonging to the black visible minority group were in core housing need. When the housing of a household falls below at least one of the adequacy, affordability or suitability standards and the household would have to spend 30% or more of its total before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (meeting all three housing standards), the household is said to be in core housing need.
  • Lone parenthood among women was more prevalent among Black populations than among the rest of the population. In the 2016 Census, 27% of Black women aged 25 to 59 were lone parents, compared with less than 10% of other women. This situation was more prevalent among female immigrants than among Canadian-born Black women.

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Immigration

  • About half of the Black population is or has ever been a landed immigrant or permanent resident in Canada. In 2016, about 623,195 Black people were immigrants, which included landed immigrants/permanent residents and Canadian citizens by naturalization.
  • About 44,285 Black people were non-permanent residents in Canada in 2016. They were living temporarily in Canada on a work or study permit or as refugee claimants (asylum seekers).
  • Long-established Black immigrants were mostly from the Caribbean, but recent immigrants were predominantly from Africa. More than half (56.7%) of the Black immigrants who landed before 1981 were born in Jamaica and Haiti.

Source: Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An overview

Language

  • In 2016, when both single and multiple responses were considered, English was the mother tongue (defined as the language first learned at home in childhood and still understood) of 59.8% of the Black population, while French was the mother tongue of 19.6%. 
  • Creole languages, Somali, Amharic and Niger-Congo languages not included elsewhere were the other top mother tongues most frequently reported. Overall, more than 100 languages were reported as a mother tongue by the Black population in the country.
  • A higher percent of people within the Black population (28.0%) speak French at home compared to the total population (23.3%).

Source: Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An overview

Low income

  • In 2016, according to the market basket measure of low income, 27% of Black children younger than age 15 were living in a family in poverty. This proportion was half as high among other children (14%).
  • Black children from all families (immigrants, second generation, third generation or higher) were likely to be affected. For example, the poverty rate was 24% among children born in second-generation families and 27% among those from immigrant families.
  • In 2015, Black children aged 0 to 14 in immigrant families from five African countries (Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan) and three Caribbean countries (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, and Grenada) had the highest low-income rates (market basket measure) (i.e., rates above 30%). Low-income status affected more than half of children from Sudanese immigrant families.

Source: Changes in the socioeconomic situation of Canada's Black population, 2001 to 2016

Optimism

  • The perceived future looks bright for most of the Black population. In 2016, the majority of the Black population ranked their standard of living, educational and employment opportunities, and opportunities to acquire assets as better than those of their parents. For example, compared with the rest of the population (55%), more Black individuals (75%) felt that their employment opportunities were better than those of their parents.
  • Among the Black population, 76% of the immigrants and 85% of the non-immigrants felt that their life opportunities would improve in the next five years. These proportions were significantly higher than for the rest of the population, where 57% of the immigrants and 46% of the non-immigrants felt that their life opportunities would improve.
  • In 2016, nearly all Black youth aged 15 to 25 said they wanted to achieve at least a bachelor's degree (94%, compared with 82% of other youth in the same age group). In contrast, Black youth were less optimistic about the highest level of education they expected to achieve. Specifically, 60% of Black youth in the same age group expected to obtain a bachelor's degree or higher, compared with 79% of other youth.

Sources:

Place of birth and ethnic origin

  • Canada is the top place of birth of the Black population. In 2016, more than four in 10 Black people were born in Canada.
  • Black newcomers now come from about 125 different countries. Jamaica and Haiti are the two main countries of birth for Black immigrants in Canada. The top countries of birth for Black immigrants admitted between 2011 and 2016 were Haiti, Nigeria, Jamaica, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Overall, more than 200 ethnic or cultural origins were reported by the Black population in Canada. The 10 most frequently reported origins among the Black population were: Jamaican, African, Haitian, Canadian, English, Somali, Nigerian, French, Ethiopian and Scottish.

Source: Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An overview

Regions

Atlantic Canada

  • In 2016, Nova Scotia had the largest Black population in the Atlantic provinces and the fifth largest Black population in the country (21,910).
  • The majority of the Black population living in Nova Scotia (83%) and New Brunswick (57%) were born in Canada. For the country as a whole, 44% of Black people were born in Canada.
  • Three in four (75.9% or 4,605) Black immigrants in the Atlantic provinces have immigrated between 2001 and 2016. Their top birthplaces were Nigeria, Jamaica, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Quebec

  • Quebec has the second largest Black population, with 26.6% of Canada's total Black population. In 20 years, the Black population has more than doubled in size in this province – going from 131,970 people in 1996 to 319,230 people in 2016.
  • In Quebec, nearly 43% of the foreign-born Black population were born in Haiti. In fact, the largest Haitian community in Canada live in the census metropolitan area of Montréal.
  • French is an official language in all of the top six countries of birth of Black immigrants living in Quebec (Haiti, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte D'Ivoire, Senegal and France).

Ontario

  • In 2016, Ontario was home to slightly more than half (52.4%) of the total Black population in Canada. Although the overall Black population in Ontario is growing, its share of the Black population in the country has decreased in 15 years. In 2001, 62.1% of Canada's Black population was living in this province.
  • In 2016, close to half of Ontario's Black population was born in Canada (47%), which reflects in part, their long immigration history in this province.
  • In Ontario, Black immigrants came from 150 different countries. About one-half were born in the Caribbean, with Jamaica (33.9%) as the leading source country. Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, Somalia, Ghana and Ethiopia were the five other most frequently reported countries for Black immigrants.

Prairies

  • The fastest growing Black population in Canada is in the Prairies, where it has more than quadrupled in size over 20 years, from 39,955 in 1996 to 174,655 in 2016. This rapid growth of the Black population in the Prairies has been driven by immigration, mainly from African countries.
  • The Albertan Black population grew fivefold between 1996 and 2016, while Manitoba's Black population has almost tripled in size and the Black population in Saskatchewan has more than tripled in the same period of time.
  • In 2016, the main birthplaces for Black immigrants in the Prairies were Nigeria, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Somalia and Eritrea. About 37,290 of the Black population were newcomers in the country, which represented 36.2% of the Black immigrant population in the Prairies.

British Columbia and the Territories

  • In British Columbia the Black population is growing, but at a slower pace compared to neighbouring provinces. Between 1996 and 2016, the Black population in British Columbia almost doubled in size.
  • Black immigrants in British Columbia came from different parts of the world, such as Jamaica, Nigeria, the United States, Ethiopia, Kenya, the United Kingdom and Somalia. About 4,405 Black people were newcomers, which represented 2.5% of the total recent immigrant population living the province.
  • The Territories had the fewest number of Black people in the country. The first generation Black population makes up the majority of the total Black population in the Territories. Top places of birth for the Black population in the Territories are: Canada, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Source: Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An overview

Resilience

  • Black individuals demonstrated strong levels of resilience, even when faced with hard times. In 2016, 44% of Black individuals said they were "always" able to bounce back quickly after hard times, compared to 33% among the rest of the population.
  • A key to resilience is how individuals make sense of negative experiences. After difficult experiences, 65% of the Black population felt that they "always" learned something from those experiences compared with 48% in the rest of the population
  • Compared with the rest of the population, Black individuals were more likely to report that, after difficult experiences, they were "always" able to continue going about their life as they normally would (41% vs 32%).

Source: Canada's Black population: Education, labour and resilience

An urban population

  • The vast majority of the Black population live in large urban areas. In 2016, 94.3% of Black people lived in Canada's census metropolitan areas (CMAs), compared with 71.2% of the country's total population.
  • Black people represented 7.5% of Toronto's total population, the highest proportion among census metropolitan areas. Montréal and Ottawa-Gatineau had the second and third highest proportions.
  • CMAs of Ottawa-Gatineau (Quebec part), Lethbridge and Moncton had the fastest growing Black population in the country between 1996 and 2016.

Source: Diversity of the Black population in Canada: An overview

Victimization and discrimination

  • According to data from Cycle 28 of the 2014 General Social Survey on Victimization, approximately 24% of Black individuals aged 15 or older reported that they had experienced some form of discrimination because of their ethnicity, culture, race or skin colour in the five years preceding the survey. In comparison, 4.6% of the rest of the population had experienced such discrimination. Among visible minority groups, Black people showed the highest percentage, followed by the Arab (22%), Latin American (17%) and South Asian (15%) groups.
  • In 2019, nearly one in five Black Canadians (18%) reported having not very much or no confidence in the police—more than double the proportion among non-visible minorities (8%).
  • In 2018, police in Canada reported 283 criminal incidents motivated by hatred against the Black population. This represented 36% of all hate crimes targeting race or ethnicity, and 16% of all hate crimes in 2018. The Black population was the second most commonly targeted group overall for 2018, behind the Jewish population.

Sources:

Wages

  • While the wage gap between Black men and the rest of the male population was smaller among immigrants, it was much greater among the Canadian-born population. For example, in 2015, second-generation Black men had the lowest median wage for men, at $40,000, which was $22,000 less than that of other second-generation men.
  • The wages of Black women are comparable with the wages of other women. For example in 2015, Black immigrant women aged 25 to 59 had an annual median wage of $35,900, compared with $35,500 for other immigrant women.
  • In 2015, with an annual median value of $41,000, the wage of Black men aged 25 to 59 was $15,000 lower than that of other men ($56,000).

Source: Changes in the socioeconomic situation of Canada's Black population, 2001 to 2016

Workers' perceptions

  • In 2016, Black workers were about twice as likely than their counterparts in the rest of the population to report having experienced unfair treatment or discrimination at work.
  • Despite hardships in the workforce, Black individuals were generally satisfied with their jobs. In 2016, the share of Black workers who reported a high level of job satisfaction was similar to that among all other workers.
  • In 2016, 79% of employed Black individuals felt a strong sense of belonging to the organization for which they worked, similar to results in the rest of the population (82%).

Source: Canada's Black population: Education, labour and resilience

Youth health

  • Compared to White Canadian youth, Black Canadians aged 15 to 30 are less likely to smoke cigarettes, to use cannabis or drink heavily, and their obesity rates are lower.
  • Black Canadians aged 15 to 30 spend less time, on average, doing recreational physical activity and eat fewer fruit and vegetables than White Canadians.
  • In 2019, there was no difference between Black and White Canadian youth in terms of mental health: 60% report excellent or very good mental health. However, suicide ideation was significantly lower among Black Canadian youth. In 2019, 10% of Black Canadians aged 15 to 30 reported that they had seriously considered suicide or taking their own life in their lifetime, compared to 20% of White Canadian youth.

Source: Portrait of Youth in Canada: Data Report - Chapter 1: Health of youth in Canada

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