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Canada's Ethnocultural Mosaic, 2006 Census: Provinces and territories

Ontario: Home to more than half of Canada's visible minority population

Ontario had a population of 2,745,200 visible minorities in 2006, more than half (54.2%) of Canada's total visible minority population. British Columbia had the second largest share, 19.9%.

Visible minorities comprised 22.8% of Ontario's total population in 2006. In contrast, just 25 years earlier, they accounted for only 6.4%. Most visible minorities in Ontario lived in major urban centres in 2006, especially in Toronto.

Ontario's visible minority population increased 27.5% between 2001 and 2006. Much of this growth can be traced to immigration, particularly among newcomers from India and the People's Republic of China.

South Asian population, largest group

As it was in 2001, South Asian was the largest visible minority group in Ontario in 2006. The South Asian population of 794,200, accounted for 28.9% of all visible minorities in Ontario in 2006.

About 71.6% of South Asians in the province were foreign-born people who came to Canada as immigrants. One in five (21.7%) South Asian visible minorities arrived in Canada between 2001 and 2006, while another 28.4% came in the 1990s.

South Asians were among the fastest growing visible minority groups in Ontario, increasing 43.1% between 2001 and 2006. This rate of growth was virtually the same as the 42.3% increase in the previous intercensal period between 1996 and 2001.

Chinese, Ontario's second largest visible minority group

The 2006 Census counted 577,000 people who reported they were Chinese, Ontario's second largest visible minority group. They accounted for 21.0% of all visible minorities in the province.

About three-quarters of Chinese were foreign-born. Of these, about one-fifth (20.8%) came to Canada between 2001 and 2006, while another 39.8% arrived during the 1990s. Consequently, the majority (60.5%) of Chinese immigrants in Ontario have lived in Canada for 15 years or less.

Blacks were the third largest visible minority group in Ontario in 2006, with an estimated population of 473,800, up 15.2% from 411,100 five years earlier. Ontario was home to 60.4% of the nation's total Black population in 2006.

Just over one-half (53.4%) of Blacks were foreign-born. Among them, about half immigrated to Canada before 1991, while nearly one-third (31.6%) came during the 1990s. About 17.2% arrived between 2001 and 2006.

The result in part of their long immigration history in Canada, Blacks had among the highest proportions of second generation people. Slightly over one-fifth (21.3%) of Blacks aged 15 years and over in Ontario were born in Canada to at least one foreign-born parent, the second highest proportion behind Japanese, with 30.3%.

Other visible minority groups in Ontario with more than 100,000 people included Filipinos (203,200), Latin Americans (147,100), Arabs (111,400) and Southeast Asians (110,500). All have increased since 2001.

Top ethnic origins reflect the cumulative effects of immigration in Ontario

In 2006, the top ethnic origins in Ontario were the people who first settled Canada, such as English, Canadian, Scottish, Irish and French. German, Italian, Chinese, East Indian and Dutch rounded out the top 10 ethnic origins in the province, reflecting the legacy of immigration over the past century. 

The census enumerated more than 200 different ethnic ancestries in Ontario, including some new origins largely resulting from recent immigration. Although they were small in number, these new origins included Gabonese, Peulh and Dinka, illustrating Ontario's rich ethnic diversity.

In 2006, more than 4.9 million people reported British Isles origins, either as their only ethnic origin (23.9% of all British Isles origins), or in combination with another origin (76.1%). Those with British Isles origins accounted for 40.8% of the province's population; English, Scottish and Irish were the most commonly reported British Isles origin.

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