Proportion of immigrants highest in 75 years

Majority have a mother tongue other than English or French

In 2006, immigrants accounted for nearly one-fifth(19.8 per cent) of Canada's total population, the highest proportion in 75 years, according to the 2006 Census.

Between 2001 and 2006, Canada's foreign-born population increased by 13.6 per cent to 6,186,950. This was four times higher than the growth rate of 3.3 per cent for the Canadian-born population during the same period.

Immigrants from Asia and the Middle East vastly outnumbered European immigrants, accounting for 58.3 per cent of newcomers to Canada, compared to Europeans who accounted for 16.1 per cent.

In 1971, these proportions were nearly the exact opposite with European immigrants making up 61.6 per cent of newcomers to Canada and immigrants from Asia and the Middle East making up 12.1 per cent.

For the first time, allophones, people whose mother tongue is neither English nor French, represented 20.1 per cent of the population in 2006, up from 18 per cent in 2001. The proportion of francophones decreased slightly from 22.9 per cent to 22.1 per cent, while the proportion of anglophones declined from 59.1 per cent to 57.8 per cent.

The majority (70.2 per cent) of the foreign-born population in 2006 were allophones, with 18.6 per cent speaking Chinese, 6.6 per cent speaking Italian, 5.9 per cent speaking Punjabi, 5.8 per cent speaking Spanish, 5.4 per cent speaking German, 4.8 per cent speaking Tagalog and 4.7 per cent speaking Arabic.

While most recent immigrants (68.9 per cent) chose to settle in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, more are beginning to settle outside these main cities. In 2006, 16.6 per cent of newcomers settled in Calgary, Ottawa–Gatineau, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton and London, up from 14.3 per cent in 2001.

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