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

Part A: Immigrants and Recent Immigrants

57,600 immigrants in the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area

According to the 2001 Census, there were 57,600 immigrants living in the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Victoria (that is, the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area or Victoria for short) in 2001. The immigrant population in Victoria has increased over the 15 years ending in 2001, although it has grown at a slower rate than the Canadian-born population within the CMA. Over the period of 1986 to 2001, the number of immigrants living in Victoria increased by 4,800 or 9%. In comparison, Victoria’s Canadian-born population increased by 49,000 or 25%.

Table A-1: Immigrants, Canadian-born and total population, Victoria Census Metropolitan Area, British Columbia and Canada, 1986, 1996 and 2001
  Census of Population
  1986 1996 2001
Victoria
Immigrants 52,810 57,790 57,590
Canadian-born 198,040 240,390 247,010
Population 250,850 300,030 306,970
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
Victoria
Immigrants 4,980 9% -200 0% 4,780 9%
Canadian-born 42,350 21% 6,620 3% 48,970 25%
Population 49,180 20% 6,940 2% 56,120 22%
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.

Victoria's immigrant population has increased at a slower rate than the immigrant population in British Columbia. To take the most recent five-year period as an example, between 1996 and 2001 the number of immigrants in the Victoria CMA declined by 200 people. In contrast, the total number of immigrants living in British Columbia increased by 106,600, or 12%.

In 2001, Victoria's share of Canada's five million immigrants was 1.1%, less than the 1.4% share fifteen years earlier. The city was the place of residence of 1% of the total population of Canada and of the same share of the country's Canadian-born population. These shares were the same as in 1986.

Victoria's share of the immigrant population of British Columbia has fallen from 8.4% in 1986 to 5.7% in 2001. Its share of British Columbia's Canadian-born population has remained stable: in 1986 the share was 8.9% and in 2001 the share was 8.6%. Victoria’s share of the total population of British Columbia was 8.8% in 1986 and declined to 7.9% in 2001.

Immigrant share of the population stable

The immigrant share of Victoria’s population has remained stable at 19% of the population since 1996, after declining from 21% in 1986. The immigrant share of the population of British Columbia has increased from 24% to 26% over the same period. The share of immigrants in the population of Canada increased from 17% in 1996 to 18% in 2001. The proportion of immigrants in Victoria’s population is similar to the proportion in the country overall, but well below that of British Columbia.

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

Figure A-1

One in four immigrants landed after 1985

Twenty-five percent of Victoria’s immigrants—57,600 people—landed in Canada in the 15 years before the 2001 Census. By comparison, 48% of British Columbia’s immigrants and 46% of Canada’s immigrants landed during the same period.

Table A-2: Immigrants by period of immigration, Victoria Census Metropolitan Area, British Columbia and Canada, 2001 (number and percentage)
Period of immigration Victoria British Columbia Canada
 Before 1961 17,310 30% 160,480 16% 894,470 16%
 1961-1970 11,330 20% 125,830 12% 745,570 14%
 1971-1980 10,980 19% 174,950 17% 936,280 17%
 1981-1985 3,760 7% 66,640 7% 380,330 7%
Earlier immigrants 43,380 75% 527,890 52% 2,956,630 54%
 1986-1990 4,340 8% 111,310 11% 661,180 12%
 1991-1995 5,130 9% 179,190 18% 867,360 16%
 1996-2001 4,750 8% 191,430 19% 963,320 18%
Recent immigrants 14,210 25% 481,920 48% 2,491,850 46%
Total 57,590 100% 1,009,820 100% 5,448,490 100%

A decreasing share of British Columbia’s immigrant population

In 2001, 1.1% of Canada's five million immigrants were living in Victoria. Very recent immigrants to Canada were less likely to be living in Victoria than earlier immigrants to Canada. Of the immigrant population of 963,300 who landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001, 0.5% were living in Victoria. Of the population of immigrants who landed before 1961, 1.9% resided in Victoria.

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

Figure A-2

Victoria is diminishing in importance as a place of residence for British Columbia's immigrant population. In 2001, 5.7% of British Columbia's total immigrants and 2.5% of those who immigrated between 1996 and 2001 lived in Victoria. Of British Columbia's population of immigrants who landed before 1961, 11% lived in Victoria in the year 2001.

14,200 recent immigrants —a small share of the population

In 2001, there were 14,200 recent immigrants (defined as those who landed in Canada after 1985) living in Victoria, representing 5% of Victoria’s total population. The share of recent immigrants in Victoria’s population is low in comparison with the proportion of recent immigrants in the populations of British Columbia and Canada.

Table A-3: Immigrants as a percentage of the population, Victoria Census Metropolitan Area, British Columbia and Canada, 2001
Period of immigration Victoria British Columbia Canada
 1986-1990 4,340 1% 111,310 3% 661,180 2%
 1991-1995 5,130 2% 179,190 5% 867,360 3%
 1996-2001 4,750 2% 191,430 5% 963,320 3%
Immigrated 1986-2001 14,210 5% 481,920 13% 2,491,850 8%
Immigrated before 1986 43,380 14% 527,900 14% 2,956,640 10%
All immigrants 57,590 19% 1,009,820 26% 5,448,490 19%

In Victoria, very recent immigrants—those who came to Canada in the 1996 to 2001 period—numbered 4,800, representing 2% of the total population. In Canada as a whole, very recent immigrants numbered close to one million, representing 3% of the population.

Three out of four eligible recent immigrants have become Canadian citizens

By 2001, a large majority of Victoria’s immigrants who landed in Canada during the 1986-1995 period—73%—had become Canadian citizens. Immigrants from most countries who landed between 1986 and 1995 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 China and Hong Kong (among the top countries of birth for Victoria) had obtained Canadian citizenship by 2001. Between 70% and 90% of those from the Philippines, South Africa, Poland and Viet Nam had done the same. (See Table B-1 for the top ten countries of birth.)

A significant share of immigrants from Western Europe, the United States, India and Japan are postponing or forgoing Canadian citizenship. The rate of acquisition of Canadian citizenship by persons who immigrated to Canada from these countries during the 1980s is less than 70%, the lowest being 36% for Japan. For Western European countries especially, the rate of naturalization has dropped significantly from levels above 80% for earlier immigrants.

Immigrants from these countries may want to keep open the option of returning to their country of birth or retaining the right to settle and work 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.

The large majority of immigrants, however, clearly continue to opt for Canadian citizenship. Seventy-three percent of immigrants who landed six to fifteen years before May 2001 had become Canadian citizens by that date, compared to 71% of the comparable cohort at the time of the 1996 Census.

Thirteen percent of immigrants who landed during the 1986-1995 period had acquired Canadian citizenship while retaining the citizenship of another country. Among Victoria’s immigrants who landed in Canada before 1986, 12% 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 than in 1996 (16%).

Table A-4: Acquisition of Canadian citizenship by country of birth, Victoria Census Metropolitan Area, 2001
More than 90 percent of Victoria's immigrants who landed in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have become Canadian citizens: Less than 70 percent of Victoria's immigrants who arrived in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have become Canadian citizens: More than one-quarter of Victoria's immigrants who arrived in Canada during 1986-1995 and were born in these countries have dual citizenship:
Hong Kong
Korea, South
China, People's Republic of
Jamaica
Japan
Malaysia
United States
Taiwan
Germany
United Kingdom
Netherlands
India
Poland
Percent of immigrants with Canadian citizenship (including those with dual citizenship) Percent of immigrants with dual citizenship
Immigrated before 1986 88% Immigrated before 1986 12%
Immigrated 1986-1995 73% Immigrated 1986-1995 13%

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, the table focuses on persons who immigrated between 1986 and 1995.

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