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Canada 2031 - Toward Unique Diversity

Monday 12th April 2010.
 

Canada 2031 - Toward Unique Diversity

South Asian Outlook April 12, 2010 Suresh Jaura

“India is people of one nation celebrating diversity. Canada will be a unique example of diversity - bringing the world together as a nation," says India-born Honourable Harinder S. Takhar, Ontario’s Minister of Government Services, commenting on the Statistics Canada study.

Statistics Canada’s 78-page Study titled: Projections of the diversity of the Canadian population 2006 to 2031, predicts that 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.”

"Canada is like a table with the four legs supporting top," says Jim Karygiannis, MP since 1988, in seventh term, from Scarborough Agincourt, East of Toronto, with large concentration of ethnic voters, adding: "The first leg is the First Nations people, the second and third legs are the French and English founding nations and the fourth leg consists of the different waves of immigrants.

"As immigrants, whether our ancestors came with the early explorers, landed at Pier 21 in Halifax between 1928-1971 or arrived today at Terminal 1 at Lester B. Pearson International Airport, we brought our traditions, cultures, faiths and good and bad habits with us."

Over the years, the face of Canada has changed many times. Today, it reflects the multi-faith and multi-racial makeup of Canada. No matter where future immigrants come from, Karygiannis (of Greek origin) believes that the Canadian values of peace, justice, tolerance and compassion will continue to prevail.

Canada, the world’s second largest country by total area, is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse countries.

Canada’s diversity was reflected in the Aboriginal peoples in Canada comprising the First Nations, Inuit and Métis that first inhabited its lands when the Europeans landed here.

Canada’s population was estimated at 33,930,800 as of January 1, 2010., with more 18.4 % born outside Canada. More than 13 million immigrants have come to Canada in the past century including over 9 million in the last fifty years.

Statistics Canada Study mentions that “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 ethno cultural makeup...

The study was prepared for Canadian Heritage, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

BRIEF HISTORY

The population in Canada as per 1901 Census was 5.3 million with 684,671 (12.7%) immigrants - born outside Canada. 96% of the population was of European origin, 22,050 Chinese/Japanese, and less than 5000 from Indian, mainly Sikhs from the Punjab, who arrived in Vancouver.

An Order in Council was issued in September 1930, prohibiting the landing of "any immigrant of any Asiatic race".

It was only, in a limited manner, in 1951, Canada opened its borders to immigrants from non-Caucasian countries rather late. Agreements were signed with the governments of India, Pakistan and then Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) by which Canada agreed to allow in certain numbers of their citizens (over and above those eligible under the rules for "Asiatics").

It was left to Pierre Trudeau, as Prime Minister, during his first term April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, to open doors to immigrants from countries other than those in Europe, an act that was hailed worldwide.

‘VISIBLE MINORITY’ IN 2031

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.

Between 29% and 32% of the population - up to 14.4 million people - could belong to a visible minority group.

The term ‘visible minority’ as a classification was approved on July 15, 1998. It refers to whether or not a person, under criteria established by the Employment Equity Act, is non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour. Under the Act, an Aboriginal person is not considered to be a Visible Minority.

StatsCan used the Employment Equity Act definition of visible minorities, which defines the group as “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.”

The Employment Equity Ac was passed to remedy past discrimination in employment opportunities and eliminate employment barriers for the four designated groups identified in the Employment Equity Act : “women, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal people, members of visible minorities.”

“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”, adds the study.

Laurent Martel, one of the authors of study says, "Soon a larger share of this visible minority population will be people actually born in Canada. They are children of immigrants or grandchildren of immigrants. So the face of Canadians is changing."

Canada has one of the highest foreign-born populations in the world; only Australia and New Zealand have higher proportions, Mr. Martel adds.

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, including Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans, are expected to make up the largest visible minority group, at 28 per cent, up from 25% thanks in part to high fertility rates, the study projected.

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.

The projections suggest that whites will become the minority in Toronto and Vancouver over the course of the next three decades.

Newcomers settle in urban areas because the sheer size of the cities means more job opportunities, which then leads to the creation of ethnic communities, said University of Toronto professor Jeffrey Reitz, in an interview on CBC.

"(They) become kind of magnets in themselves for people of similar backgrounds," the ethnic and immigration studies professor said.

"The existence of the communities in the cities sort of tends to become a self-perpetuating process."

Currently, Toronto, with a population of 2.48 million people (5.5 million in the GTA - Greater Toronto Area) is heralded as one of the most cosmopolitan and multicultural cities in the world and is ranked as the safest large metropolitan area in North America by Places Rated Almanac. Over 140 languages and dialects are spoken here, and just over 30 per cent of Toronto residents speak a language other than English or French at home.

By 2031, the Toronto CMA (census metropolitan area, Oshawa to Burlington) would be nearly two-thirds non-white - 5.6 million. Among them, South Asians would have tripled to 2.1 million, which would continue to be its largest visible minority group, up from 13% in 2006. Chinese would be 1.1 million.

In Vancouver (Census Metropolitan Area) population reached 2,116,580 on May 15, 2006. By 2031, visible minority groups could account for nearly 60% of Vancouver’s population. Counting both first generation and second-generation immigrants, 70% of the population of Vancouver would be either immigrants or children born in Canada of immigrant parents by 2031. This would be the second-highest proportion in Canada behind Toronto.

The largest visible minority group in Vancouver would be the Chinese, as it was in 2006. 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.

The South Asian group, which ranked second in 2006, is likely to remain the second largest visible minority group. They would account for 14% of the population in 2031, up from 10% in 2006.

Montreal, legitimately bilingual, with a population of 1.6 million, also has many immigrants from Martinique, Haiti and Algeria, basically Francophone countries whose people you might not meet in many parts of the English-speaking world.

Montreal would continue to lag in diversity. ‘Visible minority’ groups would represent 31% of the population, nearly double the 16% in 2006. Blacks (mostly Haitians) would double to 381,000. The Arab population would triple to 367,000.

While immigration would remain a big-city phenomenon, mid-size cities would change as well. "VizMins" would double their numbers in Barrie, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener, Oshawa, Peterborough, etc.

As the population of non-whites grows at eight times the rate of the rest, the Arabs among them (including Christian Arabs) would climb to 1.1 million. Across Canada, Islam would remain the fastest growing religion. Muslims would triple from 2.7 per cent of the population to 6.8 per cent. They would constitute half our non-Christian population.

Many of the mid-sized cities in Quebec, Atlantic Canada and northern Ontario are expected to have a visible minority population of less than 10% in 2031.

The main visible minority populations in Winnipeg are expected to maintain their relative positions in terms of size over the next 20 years, the study predicts.

Filipinos, currently the largest visible minority group in the city, are expected to remain so. South Asians are expected to remain the second-largest group, followed by blacks, the Chinese, and Latin Americans.

STATISTICS CANADA RESPONSE

Statistics Canada responded to Globalom Media and mentioned that the goal of this study, mandated by three federal departments for key policy planning and programs, was to asses what could be the ethno cultural diversity of the Canadian population by 2031.

As for the methodology applied, considering the many variables reflecting the ethno cultural diversity (visible minority groups, religious denomination, generation status, mother tongue, place of birth) to be projected, a micro simulation model for population projections was used. This model is called Demosim and allows not only to project many characteristics of the population but also to take into account the differentials in demographic behaviours from one sub-group of the population to another. The model simulates the life of more than 6 million individuals included in the 20% sample file of the 2006 Census.

The projections, including many annex tables, were made accessible to the Canadian public free of charge. The three funding partners have also access to detailed tables for policy planning.

Results of the projections have many social and economic implications. Those are not discussed in the analytical document produced by Statistics Canada and released on March 9th, as it is not the role of Statistics Canada to do so. Implications touches base with planning the needs of a changing population, social and economic integration, multiculturalism, social cohesion, employment equity, labour market integration, geographic distribution of the population, and so on.

“It has some policy implications in terms of racism and discrimination,” Winnipeg Sun quoted Andre Lebel, a Stats Canada demographer who co-authored the study. “It could also be used to improve the integration of specific groups or provide better access to the labour force.”

Lebel said he and his colleagues considered immigration, birth and mortality rates, as well as internal migration, when making their population projections.

The study does not try to collate these projections with the social, educational, economic, inter-religious issues arising from these projections. The study focuses on key results and the analysis is neutral, limited to explanations of demographic components at play to understand the trends.

As for an impact of the study on Canada’s immigration policy, Statistics Canada spokesperson suggested that we contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), which was one of the funding partner of the study.

COMMENTS

Geetika, Senior Advisor, Communications, Office of Minister of Government Services, Ontario, says, “If you read through the statistics it actually doesn’t make minority majority except in two cities - Toronto and Vancouver. The rapid rise of the South Asians, in these two key metros of Canada, will add this country in the line up, wanting to become part of one of the most widely talked about budding economic powers in the world.

“The only differences that this social shift would make perhaps is that in 2031 Canada’s ‘visible minorities’ shall not be that marginalized groups with ’hyphenated identities’ popping up in everyday conversations.”

Giving an example of the two countries as two books, Geetika says, “Open the first one titled ’India’ and as you move from one chapter (social, cultural, economic, political trends) to another you discover each character is so integral to the theme/storyline of the book. ’Canada’ is the reverse - different characters that have been brought together from around the world or evolved over the course of period make one complete storyline.”

Surinder Sharma, Past Co-Chair of Panorama India and Past President of IIT Alumni Canada and Founder President of Power Saving Systems Inc., says, “I feel we all must care for our adopted country and take more pro-active interest in the affairs of the country. There could be some special inputs from the government in its programs which help bring the foreign-born population of Canada as a part of the mainstream. We have to move from the “Separate Enclave Theory” to “The Taco Salad Approach”.

“The future immigration policy should ensure quality people are coming into Canada.”

The population projections showcase what is perhaps the most ambitious and successful experiment in heterogeneity in human history”, writes Haroon Siddiqui in the Toronto Star, “The population of visible minorities is expected to rise from one in every five Canadians to to one in three - potentially 14.4 million. The largest group, as now, would be South Asians.”

“It is a tribute to our national character that this "browning" of Canada has not attracted racist hand-wringing. Contrast this with the scaremongering in Europe about Arabs/Muslims, portrayed as the advance guard of "Eurabia." The few Canadians who do relate to that will find fodder for their phobia in the StatsCan figures,” he adds.

The study has aroused great interest in broad sections of the Canadian society, as underlined by responses Globalom Media agency - with IDN-InDepthNews as its journalistic flagship - received from government ministers, members of federal parliament, provincial legislators and community leaders from what Statistics Canada terms as the "visible minority group". The detailed responses to specific questions received will be covered in May issue.


Suresh Jaura is managing editor of South Asian Outlook and Indo-Canada Outlook published by Globalom Media (North America), which also runs the South Asian Web TV.