Projections of the diversity of the Canadian population

All growth scenarios considered, the diversity of Canada’s population will continue to increase significantly during the next two decades, especially within certain census metropolitan areas, according to new projections of the country’s ethnocultural makeup.

By 2031, between 25% and 28% of the population could be foreign-born. This would surpass the proportion of 22% observed between 1911 and 1931, the highest during the twentieth century. About 55% of this population would be born in Asia.

Between 29% and 32% of the population could belong to a visible minority group, as defined in the Employment Equity Act. This would be nearly double the proportion reported by the 2006 Census. The visible minority population is likely to increase rapidly among the Canadian-born, many of whom are children and grandchildren of immigrants.

The vast majority (96%) of people belonging to a visible minority group would continue to live in one of the 33 census metropolitan areas. By 2031, according to the reference scenario, visible minority groups would comprise 63% of the population of Toronto, 59% in Vancouver and 31% in Montréal. In contrast, they would comprise no more than 5% of the population in St. John’s, Greater Sudbury, Trois-Rivières, Québec or Saguenay.

Foreign-born population
Between now and 2031, the foreign-born population of Canada could increase approximately four times faster than the rest of the population. The population of foreign-born could reach between 9.8 million and 12.5 million, depending on various immigration assumptions.

The proportion of foreign-born in the total population would increase from 20% in 2006 to between 25% and 28%.

By 2031, nearly one-half (46%) of Canadians aged 15 and over would be foreign-born, or would have at least one foreign-born parent, up from 39% in 2006.

Canadian-born population
Regardless of future immigration, diversity will grow among the Canadian-born population. By 2031, according to the reference scenario, 47% of second-generation Canadians would belong to a visible minority group, nearly double the proportion of 24% in 2006. Second generation refers to those who are Canadian-born and have at least one parent born outside Canada.

Within the third generation or more, the proportion belonging to visible minorities, although low, would almost triple, from 1% to 3%. The third generation or more are people who are Canadian-born and whose parents and possibly grandparents were Canadian-born.

Visible minorities
According to the scenarios developed for the projections, the visible minority population would continue to be bolstered by sustained immigration, slightly higher fertility and a younger age structure. In 2006, the median age of this population was 32.5 years, compared with 40.4 for the rest of the population.

Under the low- and high-growth scenarios of these projections, Canada could have between 11.4 million and 14.4 million persons belonging to a visible minority group by 2031, more than double the 5.3 million reported in 2006. The rest of the population, in contrast, is projected to increase by less than 12%.

The South Asian population, which would still be the largest visible minority group, could more than double from roughly 1.3 million in 2006 to between 3.2 million and 4.1 million. The Chinese population is projected to grow from 1.3 million to between 2.4 million and 3.0 million.

South Asians would represent 28% of the population belonging to visible minority groups, up from 25%, while the share of Chinese would decline from 24% to 21%. This is because Chinese women have one of the lowest fertility rates in Canada, unlike South Asian women. Also, people born in China have a higher propensity to emigrate than South Asians.

Canada’s Black and Filipino populations, which were the third and fourth largest visible minority groups in 2006, could also double in size. The Arab and West Asian groups could more than triple, the fastest growth among all groups.

Religious denomination
By 2031, the number of people having a non-Christian religion in Canada would almost double from 8% of the population in 2006 to 14% in 2031.

The proportion with a Christian religion would decline from 75% to about 65%. The share with no religion would rise from about 17% to 21%.

Within the population having a non-Christian religion, about one-half would be a Muslim by 2031, up from 35% in 2006.

Metropolitan areas
By 2031, according to the reference scenario, more than 71% of all visible minority people would live in Canada’s three largest census metropolitan areas: Toronto, Vancouver and Montréal.

In Toronto, 24% of the population, or 2.1 million, would be South Asians, which would continue to be its largest visible minority group, up from 13% in 2006.

In Vancouver, Chinese would be the largest visible minority group, with a population of around 809,000. They would account for about 23% of Vancouver’s population, up from 18% in 2006.

In Montréal, visible minority groups would represent 31% of the population, nearly double the 16% in 2006. By 2031, its Arab population would almost reach the Black population.

Also available are diversity profiles for the three largest census metropolitan areas: Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver.

You can find more details at:

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