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

Part A: Immigrants and Recent Immigrants

738,600 immigrants in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area

According to the 2001 Census, there were 738,600 immigrants living in the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Vancouver (that is, the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area or Vancouver for short) in 2001. The immigrant population in Vancouver has increased substantially over the 15 years ending in 2001 and has grown at a considerably faster pace than the Canadian-born population. Over the period of 1986 to 2001, the number of immigrants living in Vancouver increased by 346,700 or 88%. In comparison, Vancouver’s Canadian-born population increased by 229,200 or 24%. Immigrants accounted for 57% of Vancouver’s total population growth between 1986 and 2001.

Table A-1: Immigrants, Canadian-born and total population, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, British Columbia and Canada, 1986, 1996 and 2001
  Census of Population
  1986 1996 2001
Vancouver
 Immigrants 391,860 633,740 738,550
 Canadian-born 970,590 1,156,370 1,199,760
Population 1,362,450 1,813,940 1,967,480
British Columbia
 Immigrants 630,670 903,190 1,009,820
 Canadian-born 2,218,920 2,756,520 2,821,870
Population 2,849,590 3,689,760 3,868,880
Canada
 Immigrants 3,908,150 4,971,060 5,448,490
 Canadian-born 21,113,860 23,390,330 23,991,910
Population 25,022,010 28,528,130 29,639,040
  Change
  1986-1996 1996-2001 1986-2001
Vancouver
 Immigrants 241,880 62% 104,810 17% 346,690 88%
 Canadian-born 185,780 19% 43,390 4% 229,170 24%
Population 451,490 33% 153,540 8% 605,030 44%
British Columbia
 Immigrants 272,520 43% 106,630 12% 379,150 60%
 Canadian-born 537,600 24% 65,350 2% 602,950 27%
Population 840,170 29% 179,120 5% 1,019,290 36%
Canada
 Immigrants 1,062,910 27% 477,430 10% 1,540,340 39%
 Canadian-born 2,276,470 11% 601,580 3% 2,878,050 14%
Population 3,506,120 14% 1,110,910 4% 4,617,030 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.

Vancouver’s immigrant population has grown at a faster pace than the immigrant population in British Columbia and in Canada. To take the most recent five-year period as an example, between 1996 and 2001 the number of immigrants in Vancouver increased by 104,900, or 17%. By comparison, the total number of immigrants living in Canada increased by 477,400 or 10% during the same five years.

In 2001, Vancouver was the place of residence of between 6% and 7% of the population of Canada, up from 5% in 1986. As well, the city was home to nearly 14% of Canada’s 5.4 million immigrants, compared to 10% fifteen years earlier. Vancouver’s share of the country’s 24 million Canadian-born persons increased to 5% in 2001 from 4.6% in 1986.

In 2001, Vancouver’s share of British Columbia’s population was 51%, up from 48% 15 years earlier, its share of the province’s immigrants was 73% compared to 62% in 1986 and its share of the province’s Canadian-born population, as in 1986, was 43%.

Immigrant share of the population increasing

Continuing the trend of the 1986-1995 period, the immigrant share of Vancouver’s population continued increasing in the five years following 1996 to reach 38% in 2001. The share of immigrants in the populations of British Columbia and Canada continued increasing as well. The proportion of immigrants in Vancouver’s population is much higher than the proportion in the country overall.

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

Figure A-1

Over one-half of immigrants landed after 1985

More than one-half of Vancouver’s immigrant population—416,000 people—landed in Canada in the 15 years before the 2001 Census. By comparison, less than one-half of British Columbia’s and Canada’s immigrant population landed during the same period. An increasing share of immigrants has settled in Vancouver upon arrival, and the city has also drawn immigrants away from the rest of Canada.

Table A-2: Immigrants by period of immigration, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, British Columbia and Canada, 2001 (number and percentage)
Period of immigration Vancouver British Columbia Canada
 Before 1961 73,550 10% 160,480 16% 894,470 16%
 1961-1970 73,210 10% 125,830 12% 745,570 14%
 1971-1980 124,400 17% 174,950 17% 936,280 17%
 1981-1985 50,650 7% 66,640 7% 380,330 7%
Earlier immigrants 321,810 44% 527,890 52% 2,956,630 54%
 1986-1990 91,940 12% 111,310 11% 661,180 12%
 1991-1995 155,200 21% 179,190 18% 867,360 16%
 1996-2001 169,620 23% 191,430 19% 963,320 18%
Recent immigrants 416,750 56% 481,920 48% 2,491,850 46%
Total 738,550 100% 1,009,820 100% 5,448,490 100%

An increasing concentration

In 2001, 14% of Canada’s 5.4 million immigrants were living in Vancouver. Recent immigrants to Canada were more likely to be living in Vancouver. Of the 963,300 immigrants to Canada who landed between 1996 and 2001, 18% were living in Vancouver, compared to only 8% of immigrants who landed before 1961.

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

Figure A-2

In 2001, three-quarters of British Columbia’s immigrants lived in Vancouver. Eighty-nine percent of British Columbia’s immigrants who landed between 1996 and 2001 resided in Vancouver in comparison to 46% of those who landed before 1961.

The Vancouver shares of the various cohorts of immigrants to Canada and British Columbia remain similar to those in 1996.

416,700 recent immigrants —one-fifth of the Vancouver CMA population

In 2001, there were 416,700 recent immigrants (defined as those who landed in Canada after 1985) living in Vancouver, representing 21% of Vancouver’s total population. The share of recent immigrants in Vancouver’s population is high compared to British Columbia and Canada. In 2001, post-1985 immigrants accounted for 13% of British Columbia’s and 8% of Canada’s population.

In Vancouver, very recent immigrants—those who came to Canada in the 1996 to 2001 period—numbered 169,200, representing 9% of the total population. 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, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, British Columbia and Canada, 2001
Period of immigration Vancouver British Columbia Canada
 1986-1990 91,940 5% 111,310 3% 661,180 2%
 1991-1995 155,200 8% 179,190 5% 867,360 3%
 1996-2001 169,620 9% 191,430 5% 963,320 3%
Immigrated 1986-2001 416,750 22% 481,920 13% 2,491,850 8%
Immigrated before 1986 321,800 17% 527,900 14% 2,956,640 10%
All immigrants 738,550 38% 1,009,820 26% 5,448,490 19%

Four out of five eligible recent immigrants have become Canadian citizens

By 2001, a large majority of Vancouver’s immigrants who landed in Canada from 1986 to 1995—82%—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, Viet Nam and Iran (among the top countries of birth for Vancouver) had obtained Canadian citizenship by 1996. Between 70% and 90% of those from China, Taiwan and the Philippines had done the same. (See Table B-1 for the top ten countries of birth.)

A significant share of immigrants from Western European and some Commonwealth 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 Sweden.

Immigrants from these countries may want to keep open the option of returning to their country of birth or 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.

Overall, 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. Eighty-two percent of Vancouver’s immigrants who landed six to fifteen years before May 2001 had become Canadian citizens by that date, compared to 80% of the comparable cohort at the time of the 1996 Census.

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 immigrants than among earlier immigrants. Among Vancouver’s immigrants who landed in Canada before 1986, 9% reported dual citizenship in 2001. The incidence of dual citizenship among immigrants who landed six to fifteen years before the census was higher in 2001 (14%) than in 1996 (13%).

Table A-4: Acquisition of Canadian citizenship by country of birth, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2001
More than 90 percent of Vancouver's immigrants who landed in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have become Canadian citizens: Less than 70 percent of Vancouver's immigrants who landed in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have become Canadian citizens: More than one-quarter of Vancouver's immigrants who landed in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have dual citizenship:
Laos
Cambodia
Slovakia
Syria
Hungary
Romania
Bangladesh
Lebanon
Iraq
Egypt
Ukraine
Yugoslavia, Former
Hong Kong
Peru
Colombia
Sri Lanka
Iran
Viet Nam
Greece
Sweden
Australia
Netherlands
Japan
Finland
Germany
Denmark
Portugal
United States
Ireland
Guyana
Austria
United Kingdom
Italy
India
Korea, South
Fiji
Chile
Spain
United States
Romania
Colombia
Egypt
Turkey
Switzerland
Greece
France
Poland
Yugoslavia, Former
Hungary
Jamaica
Spain
Israel
Slovakia
Peru
Ireland, Republic of (EIRE)
Percent of immigrants with Canadian citizenship (including those with dual citizenship) Percent of immigrants with dual citizenship
Immigrated before 1986 89% Immigrated before 1986 9%
Immigrated 1986-1995 82% Immigrated 1986-1995 12%

Note: Countries of birth are listed from highest to lowest rate of Canadian citizenship in column one, lowest to highest citizenship rate in column two, and highest to lowest rate of dual citizenship in column three. 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, focus is on persons who immigrated between 1986 and 1995.

 

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