Population Projections for Canada and its Regions, 2011 to 2036

sc-2036-vismin-002While I expect most of my readers will have seen the media reports on the latest population projections and will be familiar with the trends, here is the StatsCan summary of their findings.

One of the more striking findings is the likelihood that despite federal and provincial efforts to diversify where immigrants choose to settle and remain, relatively little change is seen from the current concentration in the major census metropolitan areas.

And as is currently the case, Montreal is likely to remain less diverse in terms of immigrants and visible minorities compared not only to Toronto and Vancouver but also Calgary and Winnipeg.

The other finding is the large increase in the number of second generation immigrants, where one in five is expected to be in 2036.

The full report is worth reading given the range of detailed information it provides even if, like all scenarios and projections, a note of caution is required.

And overall, given these trends, it is even more important to ensure that we get our immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism policies right to ensure our continued relative success in integrating newcomers and their children into Canadian society.

Immigrant and second-generation populations

  • Based on the projection scenarios used, immigrants would represent between 24.5% and 30.0% of Canada’s population in 2036, compared with 20.7% in 2011. These would be the highest proportions since 1871.
  • In 2036, between 55.7% and 57.9% of Canada’s immigrant population could have been born in Asia, up from 44.8% estimated in 2011, while between 15.4% and 17.8% could have been born in Europe, down from 31.6% in 2011.
  • The proportion of the second-generation population, i.e., non‑immigrants with at least one parent born abroad, within the total Canadian population would also increase. In 2036, nearly one in five people would be of second generation, compared with 17.5% in 2011.
  • Together, immigrants and second-generation individuals could represent nearly one person in two (between 44.2% and 49.7%) in 2036, up from 2011 (38.2%).


  • According to all scenarios used for these projections, the population whose mother tongue is neither English nor French would be up and could account for between 26.1% and 30.6% of Canada’s population in 2036, versus 20.0% in 2011.
  • As in 2011, immigrants would make up the majority—close to 70% in all scenarios—of the population whose mother tongue is neither English nor French. However, close to 40% of these other-mother-tongue immigrants would have adopted English or French as the language spoken most often at home, either alone or with other languages.

Visible minority status

  • According to the results of these projections, in 2036, among the working-age population (15 to 64 years), of special interest for the application of the Employment Equity Act, between 34.7% and 39.9% could belong to a visible minority group, compared with 19.6% in 2011.
  • In all the projection scenarios, South Asian would still be the main visible minority group in 2036, followed by the Chinese. However, the most rapidly growing groups would be the Arab, Filipino and West Asian groups, given that they represent a higher proportion in the immigrant population than in the population as a whole.


  • The proportion of people who report having no religion in the total population would continue to increase, and could represent between 28.2% and 34.6% in 2036 (compared with 24.0% in 2011). This proportion would be similar to Catholics (between 29.2% and 32.8% in 2036, down from 2011 [38.8%]). In 2036, Catholicism would remain the religion with the largest number of followers.
  • The number of people affiliated with non-Christian religions could almost double by 2036 and could represent between 13% and 16% of Canada’s population, compared with 9% in 2011. The Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths, which are over-represented among immigrants compared to their demographic weight in the population as a whole, would see the number of their followers grow more quickly, even if it would continue to represent a modest share of the total Canadian population.

Regional analysis

  • The results of the different scenarios show that in all provinces and territories, the number and the proportion of immigrants in the population would increase between 2011 and 2036.
  • Based on all the projection scenarios, the geographic distribution of immigrants among the various regions in 2036 would be similar to the estimate in 2011. The vast majority (between 91.7% and 93.4%) would continue to live in a census metropolitan area (CMA). The three primary areas of residence for immigrants would remain Toronto (between 33.6% and 39.1%), Montréal (between 13.9% and 14.6%) and Vancouver (between 12.4% and 13.1%).
  • According to all the scenarios for these projections, more than one in two people in 2036 would be an immigrant or the child of an immigrant in Toronto (between 77.0% and 81.4%), Vancouver (between 69.4% and 74.0%), Calgary (between 56.2% and 63.3%) and Abbotsford – Mission (between 52.5% and 57.4%). In 2011, the corresponding proportions were 74.1% in Toronto, 65.6% in Vancouver, 48.0% in Calgary and 49.7% in Abbotsford – Mission.
  • The results of the projections show that the proportion of the working-age population (aged 15 to 64) who belong to a visible minority group would increase in all areas of the country, in all the scenarios. This proportion would surpass 40% in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Abbotsford – Mission. It would remain lower in non-metropolitan areas.
  • The results of the projections indicate that religious diversity would be up in all areas considered by 2036. The increase would be more substantial in areas that were the most homogeneous in 2011, i.e., Quebec (excluding Montréal) and in the Atlantic provinces, primarily because of the rise in the proportion of people who reported having no religion.
  • The most religiously diverse areas in 2011 would remain as such in 2036. Among them, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, which had a large proportion of immigrants among their population in 2011, would continue to be diverse, in particular as a result of the increase in the proportion of persons reporting a non-Christian religion.

Source: Population Projections for Canada and its Regions, 2011 to 2036

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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