In 2011, 20 percent of the country’s population was foreign-born and thus classified as belonging to the immigrant population.
This move has been widely criticized by migration researchers and social scientists in general, who fear that their ability to conduct critical analyses of trends in social change and social inequality will be curtailed.
In geographical terms, the immigrant population is distributed unevenly across Canada. According to the 2011 NHS, 94.8 percent of Canada’s foreign-born residents live in four out of ten provinces: Ontario (53.3 percent), British Columbia (17.6 percent), Québec (14.4 percent) and Alberta (9.5 percent). The immigrant population is also concentrated in urban areas. Toronto alone is home to 37.4 percent of all foreign-born persons in Canada, and they account for 46 percent of the city’s total population. In other words, nearly every second person in Canada’s largest city was born outside the country.
In the past 40 years, new immigration policies and international events related to the movement of migrants have resulted in a marked shift in the main countries of origin of Canada’s immigrant population. According the 2011 NHS, among immigrants who reported settling in Canada prior to 1971, 78.3 percent came from Europe, 8.5 percent from Asia, 5.4 percent from the Caribbean, Central and South America, and 1.9 percent from Africa. In contrast, those who reported arriving between 2006 and 2011 came mainly from Asia (56.9 percent), Europe (13.7 percent), Africa (12.5 percent), and the Caribbean, Central and South America (12.3 percent). The top ten source countries for newcomers in 2011 were, in descending order, the Philippines, China, India, the United States, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Iran, South Korea, Colombia and Mexico.