The 2006 Census enumerated 6,186,950 individuals who were born outside of Canada. They represented one in five (19.8%) of the total population. This is the highest proportion of foreign-born population in 75 years.
A majority of the 1.1 million recent immigrants lived in Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver. But there were also some signs that newcomers are choosing the smaller metropolitan areas.
For detailed analysis of Canada's immigration trends please review this report on the Statistics Canada web site
Between 2001 and 2006, Canada's foreign-born population increased by 13.6%. This was four times higher than the Canadian-born population, which grew by 3.3% during the same period. At 19.8%, Canada had a higher proportion of foreign-born than the United States of America (12.5%) and lower than Australia (22.2%).
The census estimated that 1,110,000 recent immigrants came to Canada between January 1, 2001 and May 16, 2006. These newcomers made up 17.9% of the total foreign-born population, and 3.6% of Canada's 31.2 million total population.
Recent immigrants born in Asia (including the Middle East) made up the largest proportion of newcomers to Canada in 2006 (58.3%). This proportion was virtually unchanged from 59.4% in 2001.In contrast, in 1971, only 12.1% of recent immigrants for this period were born in Asia (including the Middle East).
Newcomers born in Europe made up the second-largest group (16.1%) of recent immigrants in 2006. Europe used to be the main source region of immigrants. In 1971, they accounted for 61.6% of newcomers to Canada.
An estimated 10.8% of recent immigrants were born in Central and South America and the Caribbean, up from 8.9% in 2001. Another 10.6% newcomers to Canada in 2006 were born in Africa, also up from 8.3% in 2001.
A majority (70.2%) of the foreign-born population in 2006 reported a mother tongue other than English or French. Among these individuals, the largest proportion, one in five (18.6%), reported Chinese languages. It was followed by Italian (6.6%), Punjabi (5.9%), Spanish (5.8%), German (5.4%), Tagalog (4.8%) and Arabic (4.7%).
Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver were home to 68.9% of the recent immigrants in 2006. In contrast, slightly over one-third (34.4%) of Canada's total population lived in these three census metropolitan areas.
There were some signs that recent immigrants are choosing to settle in smaller metropolitan areas. Individually, 5.2% of recent immigrants had settled in Calgary, 2.9% chose Edmonton and 2.2% chose Winnipeg. These were all increases from 2001. Another 3.2% of recent immigrants had settled in Ottawa - Gatineau, a slight decline from 4% in 2001.
The majority (85.1%) of the foreign-born who were eligible for Canadian citizenship in 2006 had become naturalized.
The census enumerated 863,100 individuals, or 2.8% of the population, who reported a Canadian citizenship and at least one other citizenship. Most of them (80.2%) were foreign-born.