Canada’s Foreign-Born Population At 75-Year Peak

Canada's foreign-born population at 75-year peak

Tue Dec 4, 2007 2:49 PM EST

OTTAWA (Reuters) – One in five people in Canada last year was born in another country, the highest proportion since the 1930s, according to a census released on Tuesday.

The foreign-born population grew four times faster than the Canadian-born population between 2001 and 2006, as an estimated 1.1 million immigrants made the country their home, Statistics Canada said.

Only one-fifth of those newcomers spoke either English or French, Canada's two official languages, according to the results of the 2006 census on immigration, citizenship, language, mobility and migration.

Chinese languages were the third most common mother tongue, after English and French.

The majority of newcomers — 58 percent — came from Asia including the Middle East, little changed from 2001, but up significantly from about 12 percent in 1971.

Immigrants born in Europe, which used to be the main source of immigration, were the second largest group, making up 16 percent of the total, down from 62 percent in 1971.

Significant non-European immigration meant that for the first time, seven out of ten immigrants reported a mother tongue other than English or French.

After Chinese, the most common foreign languages spoken in Canadian homes were Italian, Punjabi, Spanish, German, Tagalog and Arabic.

Anglophones, with English as their mother tongue, remained a majority in Canada, accounting for 57.8 percent of the total population, compared with 59.1 percent in 2001. Francophones represented 22.9 percent.

(Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Bernadette Baum)