Recent Immigrants in Metropolitan Areas: Calgary—A Comparative Profile Based on the 2001 Census

Part A: Immigrants and Recent Immigrants

197,400 immigrants in the Calgary Census Metropolitan Area

According to the 2001 Census of Population, there were 197,400 immigrants living in the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Calgary (that is, the Calgary Census Metropolitan Area or Calgary for short) in 2001. The immigrant population in Calgary has increased substantially over the 15 years ending in 2001. The Canadian-born population has grown at almost the same pace. Over the period of 1986 to 2001, the number of immigrants living in Calgary increased by 59,100 or 43%. In comparison, Calgary’s Canadian-born population increased by 210,700 or 40%. Immigrants accounted for 21% of Calgary’s total population growth between 1986 and 2001.

Table A-1: Immigrants, Canadian-born and total population, Calgary Census Metropolitan Area, Alberta, and Canada, 1986, 1996 and 2001
  Census of Population
  1986 1996 2001
Calgary
 Immigrants 138,300 170,900 197,400
 Canadian-born 527,600 640,500 738,300
Population 665,900 816,000 943,300
Alberta
 Immigrants 368,800 405,100 438,300
 Canadian-born 1,971,500 2,253,000 2,485,500
Population 2,340,300 2,669,200 2,941,200
Canada
Immigrants 3,908,200 4,971,100 5,448,500
Canadian-born 21,113,900 23,390,300 23,991,900
Population 25,022,000 28,528,100 29,639,000
  Change
  1986-1996 1996-2001 1986-2001
Calgary
 Immigrants 32,600 24% 26,500 16% 59,100 43%
 Canadian-born 112,900 21% 97,800 15% 210,700 40%
Population 150,100 23% 127,300 16% 277,400 42%
Alberta 
 Immigrants 36,300 10% 33,200 8% 69,500 19%
 Canadian-born 281,500 14% 232,500 10% 514,000 26%
Population 328,900 14% 272,000 10% 600,900 26%
Canada
 Immigrants 1,062,900 27% 477,400 10% 1,540,300 39%
 Canadian-born 2,276,400 11% 601,600 3% 2,878,000 14%
Population 3,506,100 14% 1,110,900 4% 4,617,000 18%

Note: In Table A-1, population totals for 1996 and 2001 include non-permanent residents as well as immigrants and the Canadian-born. Non-permanent residents are not included in Table A-1 for 1986 nor are they included in any population figures elsewhere in this report.

Calgary’s immigrant population has grown at a faster pace than the immigrant population in Alberta and Canada. To take the most recent five-year period as an example, between 1996 and 2001 the number of immigrants in Calgary increased by 26,500 or 16%. By comparison, the total number of immigrants living in Canada increased by 477,400 or 10% during the same five years.

In 2001, Calgary was the place of residence of 3.2% of the population of Canada, up from 2.7% in 1986. As well, the city was home to 3.6% of Canada’s 5.4 million immigrants, compared to 3.5% fifteen years earlier. Calgary’s share of the country’s 24 million Canadian-born persons increased to 3.1% in 2001 from 2.5% in 1986.

In 2001, Calgary’s share of Alberta’s population was 32%, up from 29% fifteen years earlier, its share of the province’s immigrants was 45% compared to 38% in 1986, and its share of the province’s Canadian-born population was 30% compared to 27% in 1986.

A stable share of the population

The proportion of Calgary’s population consisting of immigrants has remained fairly constant between 1986 and 2001. In 2001, as in 1986, immigrants represented 21% of the population. The proportion of immigrants in the population of Alberta has also been constant, while the immigrant population of Canada has increased as a proportion of the total population since 1986. The proportion of immigrants in Calgary’s population is somewhat higher than the proportion in the country overall.

Figure A-1: Immigrants as a percentage of the population, Calgary Census Metropolitan Area, Alberta and Canada, 1986, 1996 and 2001

Immigrants as a percentage of the population, Calgary Census Metropolitan Area, Alberta and Canada, 1986, 1996 and 2001

Nearly one-half of immigrants landed after 1985

Many of Calgary’s immigrants have lived in Canada for a long time. Of the 197,400 immigrants living in Calgary in 2001, 53% had landed in Canada more than 15 years earlier. When compared with the immigrant population living in Alberta and in all of Canada, Calgary’s immigrant population is of a slightly more recent vintage. As many as 47% of Calgary’s immigrants landed in Canada after 1985. In Alberta, 41% of immigrants landed after 1985, and for Canada the share is 46%. Moreover, 18% of immigrants living in Calgary in 2001 landed after 1995, compared to 15% in the province of Alberta and 18% in Canada.

Table A-2: Immigrants by period of immigration, Calgary Census Metropolitan Area, Alberta and Canada, 2001 (number and percentage)
Period of immigration Calgary Alberta Canada
 Before 1961 24,100 12% 74,000 17% 894,500 16%
 1961-1970 21,400 11% 51,000 12% 745,600 14%
 1971-1980 41,000 21% 92,000 21% 936,300 17%
 1981-1985 19,000 10% 42,100 10% 380,300 7%
Earlier immigrants 105,500 53% 259,100 59% 2,956,600 54%
 1986-1990 23,100 12% 49,400 11% 661,200 12%
 1991-1995 32,500 16% 63,400 14% 867,400 16%
 1996-2001 36,400 18% 66,600 15% 963,300 18%
Recent immigrants 91,900 47% 179,300 41% 2,491,900 46%
Total 197,400 100% 438,300 100% 5,448,500 100%

An increasing share of Alberta’s immigrants

In 2001, 3.6% of Canada’s 5.4 million immigrants were living in Calgary. Calgary’s share of Canada’s immigrants varies according to the period of immigration. It has a smaller share of immigrants who landed before the 1970s and a larger share of immigrants who landed during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Figure A-2: Immigrants residing in Calgary Census Metropolitan Area as a percentage of Canada’s and Alberta’s immigrant population by period of immigration, 2001

Immigrants residing in Calgary Census Metropolitan Area as a percentage of Canada's and Alberta's immigrant population by period of immigration, 2001

In 2001, 45% of Alberta’s immigrants lived in Calgary. More than one-half of very recent immigrants in Alberta lived in Calgary, compared to about one-third of Alberta’s immigrant population who landed before 1961.

91,900 recent immigrants—10% of the Calgary CMA population

In 2001, there were 91,900 recent immigrants (defined as those who landed in Canada after 1985) living in Calgary, representing 10% of Calgary’s total population. The share of recent immigrants in Calgary’s population is high in comparison to the proportion of recent immigrants in the populations of Alberta and Canada. In 1996, post-1985 immigrants accounted for 6% of Alberta’s and 8% of Canada’s populations, respectively.

In Calgary, very recent immigrants—those who came to Canada in the 1996 to 2001 period—numbered 36,400 and represented 4% of the total population of Calgary. In Canada as a whole, very recent immigrants numbered close to one million, representing 3% of the population.

Table A-3: Immigrants as a percentage of the population, Calgary Census Metropolitan Area, Alberta and Canada, 2001
Period of immigration Calgary Alberta Canada
 1986-1990 23,100 2% 49,400 2% 661,200 2%
 1991-1995 32,500 3% 63,400 2% 867,400 3%
 1996-2001 36,400 4% 66,600 2% 963,300 3%
Immigrated 1986-2001 91,900 10% 179,300 6% 2,491,900 8%
Immigrated before 1986 105,500 11% 259,000 9% 2,956,600 10%
All immigrants 197,400 21% 438,300 15% 5,448,500 19%

Four out of five eligible recent immigrants have become Canadian citizens

By 2001, a large majority of Calgary’s immigrants who landed in Canada from 1986 to 1995—80%—had become Canadian citizens. Immigrants who landed between 1986 and 1995 from most countries are becoming Canadians in high proportions, from 70% to close to 100%. More than 90% of immigrants who landed during the 1986-1995 period from Hong Kong, Lebanon and China (among the top countries of birth for Calgary) had obtained Canadian citizenship by 1996. Between 70% and 90% of those from the Philippines, Vietnam, Poland and El Salvador had done the same. (See Table B-1 for the top ten countries of birth.)

A significant share of immigrants from a number of European and other countries are postponing or forgoing Canadian citizenship. The rate of acquisition of Canadian citizenship by persons who immigrated to Canada from these countries during the 1986-1995 period is less than 70%, the lowest being 29% for Australia.

Immigrants from these countries may want to keep open the option of returning to their country of birth or, for Europeans, retaining the right to settle in any member state of the European Union. Depending on policies in countries of birth, people may not be able to retain their original nationality if they become Canadian citizens. As well, children born in Canada while the immigrant parents are still citizens of their country of birth may be citizens of that country, but not if their parents have become Canadian citizens.

Today, there are more and more people who live in more than one country over the course of their working lives. To work in Canada, they may become landed immigrants but they may not have the intention of becoming Canadian citizens and may never do so.

Overall, however, the rate at which recent immigrants become citizens of Canada is not changing. The large majority of immigrants who remain in Canada clearly continue to opt for Canadian citizenship. A total of 80% of immigrants who landed six to fifteen years before May 2001 had become Canadian citizens by that date—the same percentage as five years earlier at the time of the 1996 Census. Of earlier immigrants, 88% had acquired Canadian citizenship.

One in eight immigrants who landed during the 1986-1995 period had acquired Canadian citizenship while retaining the citizenship of another country. Dual citizenship was more common among recent than earlier immigrants. Among Calgary’s immigrants who landed in Canada before 1986, one in ten reported dual citizenship in 2001. The incidence of dual citizenship among immigrants who landed six to fifteen years before the census was lower in 2001 (12%) than in 1996 (18%).

Table A-4: Acquisition of Canadian citizenship by country of birth, Calgary Census Metropolitan Area, 2001
More than 90 percent of Calgary’s immigrants who landed in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have become Canadian citizens: Less than 70 percent of Calgary’s immigrants who landed in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have become Canadian citizens: More than one-quarter of Calgary’s immigrants who landed in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have dual citizenship:
Laos
Syria
Afghanistan
Russian Federation
Bangladesh
Hong Kong
Kenya
Lebanon
Iraq
Somalia
Peru
Egypt
Iran
China, People’s Republic of
Ethiopia
Australia
Japan
Netherlands
Italy
Jamaica
Guyana
Chile
Germany
United States
United Kingdom
Mexico
Portugal
Ireland, Republic of
India
South Korea
Syria
Egypt
Hungary
Poland
Bangladesh
Romania
Ireland, Republic of
Yugoslavia
Lebanon
Percent of immigrants with Canadian citizenship (including those with dual citizenship) Percent of immigrants with dual citizenship
Immigrated before 1986 88% Immigrated before 1986 10%
Immigrated 1986-1995 80% Immigrated 1986-1995 12%

Note: Countries of birth are listed in order of highest rate of Canadian citizenship in column 1, lowest rate of Canadian citizenship in column 2, and highest rate of dual citizenship in column 3. Citizenship refers to a person’s legal citizenship status, as reported in the 2001 Census. In Canada, there is a residence requirement of three years before Canadian citizenship can be acquired. As a result, many immigrants who landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001 were not yet eligible for Canadian citizenship at the time the census was carried out in 2001. For this reason, this group is not considered here. Instead, the table focuses on persons who immigrated between 1986 and 1995.

Date Modified: