Punjabi, Chinese main immigrant languages in B.C.

Chinese languages and Punjabi are the dominant immigrant languages spoken in Metro Vancouver homes, according to a census survey of the linguistic characteristics of Canadians

The census figures show Punjabi and the Chinese groups accounted for more than half — 57.7 per cent — of the overall population speaking an immigrant language most often at home in the Metro Vancouver census area.

Of the 712,000 people who reported speaking an immigrant language most often at home, nearly 18 per cent reported speaking Punjabi.

But the combined number of people who spoke either Cantonese, Mandarin or an unspecified Chinese language accounted for 40 per cent of the population who spoke an immigrant language as their main language at home.

In Greater Vancouver, the number of people whose mother tongue is something other than French or English is now nearly one million people.

The survey also showed that Canada’s fastest-growing language is Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, according to the latest census on the nation’s makeup.

The number of people reporting speaking Tagalog at home grew by 35 per cent since the last census. This corresponds directly to immigration patterns – the top source country for permanent residents is currently the Philippines and has been for years. Over 50,000 Filipinos became permanent residents in 2015.

The main immigrant languages spoken at home by Canadians in 2016 were Mandarin (641,100 people), Cantonese (594,705 people), Punjabi (568,375 people), Spanish (553,495 people), Tagalog (Pilipino) (525,375 people) and Arabic (514,200 people). Proportionally speaking, the number of people who speak each of these languages individually represents between 1.4% and 1.9% of the Canadian population.

In 2016, 22 immigrant mother tongues each had a population of more than 100,000 people. This is the same number of languages as in 2011.

Combined, these 22 mother tongues comprised more than 6.3 million people in 2016, or 81.5% of the population with an immigrant mother tongue. In 2011, the 22 languages with each more than 100,000 people totalled close to 5.6 million people.

In 2016, 75.5% of people with an immigrant mother tongue lived in one of the six largest census metropolitan areas (CMAs): Montréal, Ottawa–Gatineau, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

In Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, the five main immigrant mother tongues are primarily Asian languages.

In Vancouver, the population of the three most eported immigrant mother tongues (Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi) represents 49.2% of all people who reported an immigrant mother tongue in 2016. These mother tongues are also the top three in Toronto, where people who reported them made up 24.8% of the population with an immigrant mother tongue.

In Calgary and Edmonton, Tagalog, Punjabi and Cantonese were in the top spots, in that order.

In Montréal and Ottawa–Gatineau, Arabic is the main immigrant mother tongue. Mandarin is the only Asian language in the top five in the Montréal CMA.

In numbers, Punjabi was the main immigrant language spoken at home in British Columbia (222,720 people) in 2016, up 10.9% from 2011, followed closely by Mandarin (202,625 people) and Cantonese (200,280 people).

Other highlights include;

In 2016, 2.4% of Canadians reported more than one mother tongue, compared with 1.9% of Canadians in 2011.

In 2016, 19.4% of Canadians reported speaking more than one language at home, up from 2011 (17.5%).

In 2016, 7 in 10 people with a mother tongue other than English or French spoke one of these languages at home.

These trends reflect the changes that Canada has undergone in terms of the geographic origin of its immigrants.

The number of people who speak languages from countries that are recent sources of immigration, primarily Asian countries, is on the rise. Meanwhile, the number of people who speak certain European languages—which reflect older waves of immigration—is declining, said Statistics Canada.

Satistics Canada is careful to note, however, that the growth in immigrant languages doesn’t mean that English or French is losing ground. Seventy per cent of people who report an immigrant mother tongue or who speak an immigrant language at home also speak English or French at home.



Highlights from census 2016 numbers on families, households, languages


• The Canadian household averaged just 2.4 people in 2016, compared with 5.6 people in 1871.


• More than one in three Canadians aged 20-34 — 34.7 per cent — were living with at least one parent in 2016, compared with 30.6 per cent in 2001. During that same period, the percentage of people in that age group living with a family of their own fell from 49.1 per cent to 41.9 per cent.


• The living-at-home phenomenon is most pronounced in Ontario, with 42.1 per cent of young adults living with a parent, a 20.3 per cent increase over 2001. In Toronto and Oshawa, Ont., the ratio was more than 47 per cent.


• Just over 28 per cent of all households comprised a single person in 2016 — the highest share of one-person households since 1867, making it the most common living arrangement in Canada for the first time ever. 53.7 per cent of them were women.


• Three in 10 children in Canada were living in non-traditional family arrangements, such as in a lone-parent family, a stepfamily, with grandparents or other relatives, or as foster children. Statistics Canada counted 28,030 foster children aged 14 and under in Canada in 2016.


• Couples with children made up 26.5 per cent of all households, down from 31.5 per cent in 2001.


• More than 1 million children, or 19.2 per cent, were living in a single-parent family in 2016, up from 17.8 per cent in 2001. Of those, 81.3 per cent lived with their mother. During that same period, however, the number living with their father grew 34.5 per cent.


• There were 72,880 same-sex couples in Canada in 2016, a 60.7 per cent increase over 2006. One-third of them were married, and about 12 per cent — most of them women — were living with children.


• One-third (33 per cent) of women aged 65 and older were living alone in 2016, down from 38.3 per cent in 2001, compared with 17.5 per cent of men. 51.4 per cent of senior women reported being part of a married or common-law couple, up from 44.4 per cent in 2001.

• While married couples still dominate, 21.3 per cent of all couples were living common-law in 2016, compared with 6.3 per cent in 1981.


 •  Multigenerational households — at least three generations of the same family — was the fastest-growing household type in 2016, growing by 37.5 per cent compared with 21.7 per cent for all households. Some 2.2 million Canadians lived in a multigenerational household in 2016.

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