Twenty percent of the Canadian population now speaks a language other than French or English at home, according to the latest census information released by Statistics Canada.
The statistics point to immigration’s transformational effect on Canadian demography and culture, as hundreds of thousands of people from primarily non-English and French speaking countries settle in Canada each year.
The census shows a majority – 58.0% – of the Canadian population speaking only English at home, and 18.2% speaking only French.
According to the census, the fastest growing non-English-or-French languages in Canada between 2006 and 2011 were:
- Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines (+64%)
- Mandarin, the official language of China (+50%)
- Arabic, spoken in the Middle East and North Africa (+47%)
- Hindi, the official language of India (+44%)
- Creole languages, spoken primarily in the Caribbean islands (+42%)
- Bengali, a common language in India (+40%)
- Persian, the official language of Iran (+33%)
- Spanish, the official language of Spain and most of Latin America (+32%)
The list closely mirrors immigration trends, with the Philippines, India and China as the largest sources of immigrants to Canada:
- Philippines (13%)
- India (10.8%)
- People’s Republic of China (10.8%)
- United Kingdom (3.4%)
- United States of America (3.3%)
- France (2.5%)
- Iran (2.4%)
- United Arab Emirates (2.4%)
- Morocco (2.1%)
- Republic of Korea (2%)
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
Among metropolitan areas, the highest concentration of non-English and French language speakers was found in Toronto, with 32.2% speaking another language at home. The most commonly spoken immigrant languages in Toronto were found to be Cantonese, Punjabi, Chinese n.o.s., Urdu and Tamil.
Vancouver had the next highest concentration of immigrant language speakers, at 31%. Among immigrant language speakers, Punjabi was the most common language spoken, at 17.7%, followed by Cantonese (16.0%), Chinese n.o.s. (12.2%), Mandarin (11.8%) and Tagalog (6.7%).
Montréal had a significantly lower proportion of immigrant language speakers than Toronto and Vancouver, at 16.5% of its population.
Arabic, at 17.2%, followed by Spanish (15.2%), Italian (8.1%), Chinese n.o.s. (5.7%) and a Creole language (5.4%) were the most common immigrant languages reported to be spoken in the city.