Immigrants Could Make Up One-Third of Population by 2036: StatsCan Study

January 26, 2017 Updated: January 26, 2017

OTTAWA—A new Statistics Canada survey says almost half the country’s population could be an immigrant or the child of an immigrant within the next 20 years.

It suggests the proportion of immigrants in Canada’s population could reach 30 percent in 2036—compared to 20.7 percent in 2011—and a further 20 percent of the population would be the child of an immigrant, up from the 17.5 percent recorded in 2011.

The numbers released Wednesday, Jan. 25, are a far cry from the country’s first census of the population in 1871—four years after Confederation—when 16.1 percent of the 3.7 million people in Canada were born abroad, with Britain, the United States, and Germany as the most likely countries of origin.

The population projections show immigration will alter the country’s cultural landscape under all scenarios Statistics Canada explored as part of an ongoing project to map out Canada’s future as the nation turns 150 years old.

Up to 30 percent of Canadians in 2036 could have a mother tongue that is neither English nor French.

The upward trend in the number of immigrants to Canada would also have an effect on the languages spoken at home.

In Quebec, the percentage of people who claim French as their mother tongue is expected to drop to between 69 and 72 percent in 2036, down from 79 percent in 2011.

Across Canada, the percentage of francophones is also expected to drop to between 17 and 18 percent from 21.3 percent in 2011.

In Quebec, while the overall number of people who speak French at home—even if it isn’t their mother tongue—is expected to grow, their share as a percentage of the population will fall to about 75 percent from 81.6 percent.

The share of those who speak English at home in Quebec, on the other hand, will rise three or four points to the 16 or 17 percent range—due in part to the tendency of new immigrants to favour English over French when choosing a new language.

Up to 30 percent of Canadians in 2036 could have a mother tongue that is neither English nor French, a potential jump of 10 points from 2011.

Researchers concluded more than half of the country’s immigrants will be of Asian origin within the next two decades, with a corresponding decline in the number of European immigrants.

Visible minority populations would make up a growing percentage of the working age population, defined as people between the ages of 15 and 64, potentially doubling their share to 40 percent of the age cohort, up from almost 20 percent in 2011.

The projections also suggest that by 2036, between 13 and 16 percent of the population would be people from a non-Christian religion, up from the nine percent recorded in 2011. Within this group, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs would see their numbers grow most quickly.

From The Canadian Press