Newcomers increasingly prefer the Prairies as their new home, survey finds
OTTAWA — More and more newcomers may be headed for the booming prairies, but big cities in Ontario and British Columbia still remain home to the vast majority of immigrants in Canada — a phenomenon that has some raising questions about the settlement funding formula.
According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey — the replacement for the long-form census, which was scrapped by the Conservatives in 2010 — more immigrants are choosing to settle in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Statisticians caution there is no way of knowing how good or bad the information from the National Household Survey is. The voluntary nature of the survey leaves gaps in the data from groups that tend not to respond to voluntary surveys, including new immigrants and low-income families. Experts believe the data should provide a fairly accurate broad scale picture of Canada, but that the smaller the group surveyed, the less reliable the information.
Alberta welcomed 12.4% of all newcomers in 2011, up from 9.3% in 2006, while five per cent of all immigrants chose to settle in Manitoba, up from 2.8% five years earlier. Meanwhile, some 2.3% of all newcomers made Saskatchewan home, up from 0.7% in 2006.
Quebec also saw a slight increase in immigration, up to 19.2% in 2011 from 17.5% in 2006. On the other hand, Ontario experienced a sharp decline in its share of newcomers. According to Statistics Canada, about 43% of newcomers settled in Ontario in 2011, compared to 52% in 2006.
B.C.’s share of newcomers remained stable at around 16 per cent.
That said, more than half of all foreign-born residents in Canada nonetheless live in Ontario, while nearly 18% call B.C. home.
Toronto and Vancouver are also inching ever closer to having the first majority immigrant population. Some 46% of Torontonians are now foreign born, up slightly from 2006, while 40% of Vancouverites are immigrants.
In all, one in five residents in Canada are foreign born.
University of Toronto law professor Audrey Macklin said the shifting geographic flow of immigrants has an impact on settlement funding and that could be worrisome.
Not only has the federal government clawed back the responsibility in recent years rather than allow the provinces to manage their own programs, she said the government has also shifted funds away from Ontario due to declining numbers.
“Toronto and Ontario still have, proportionally, more family class and refugees. There’s a more complicated story to tell even if proportion is declining,” she said.
“If Ontario gets more refuges and refugees require more intensive settlement assistance than some other classes of immigrants, then you need a more nuanced formula.”
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: tobicohen
Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity in Canada