One in five Canadians are expats – which is the largest proportion of the nation’s population for more than a century, according to a new census report.
Most of them are younger than the average Canadian-born citizen, live in the larger cities and come from Asia, though growing numbers of Africans are arriving.
Around 6.8 million expats live in Canada.
The data comes from a new method of compiling demographic statistics since the original census form was controversially scrapped after 2006.
Instead, the voluntary replacement is regarded as more accurate and has a higher participation from Canada’s population.
Top G8 expat destination
The National Household Survey (NHS) shows that the number of expats has risen from the last survey, which revealed that 19.8% of the population was foreign-born.
Canada now has the highest proportion of foreign-born residents of any country in the G8, a grouping of richest countries.
Tina Chui, chief of statistics at Statistics Canada, says: “The country is as diverse as it has ever been.
Diversity is different across the country with the immigrant population of Montreal, for instance, being different from that found in Vancouver or Toronto.”
While the national figure of 20.6% is a new expat high, Canada is seeing a growing number of suburbs expats are now in the majority.
The city of Markham has the highest proportion of expats, with 72% of residents born abroad.
Around 91% of immigrants are living in big cities, with 63.4% live in just three: Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.
The census also throws up an anomaly – the Philippines accounts for 13% of the expat population – but this figure doesn’t match data collected by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
European expats decline
The next most popular home countries for expats are China and India, while those heading to Canada from Europe are slowing declining in numbers.
The NHS also reveals that Canadians are increasingly rejecting religion.
Around two-thirds of Canadians profess to worship as Christians, but a quarter said they were not religious in any way, which is a big rise from the 16.5% recorded in the 2001 census.
Increasing numbers of expats worship as Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Muslims.
The government will release the next report of the NHS in June 2013, which will cover education, labour, language, migration and place of work.
That will be followed in August by a census report covering income and housing.