Diversity in Ontario: A Community Profile

The rapid growth of immigrant and visible minority communities is shifting the
make-up of Ontario

multicultural group jpgOverall, Ontario is becoming increasingly diverse—more than 368,500 people from a variety of countries settled in the province between 2001 and 2006 and close to three million people described themselves as a member of a visible minority.

Immigrant and visible minority communities in Ontario are growing much faster than the overall population.  Between 2001 and 2006, the immigrant community in Ontario grew by nearly double the provincial rate and the number of people identifying as a visible minority grew more than four times the provincial rate.

This strong and rapid growth is shifting the make-up of Ontario and its largest urban centres. While Ontario was once settled by people with primarily European origins, today, newcomers are most likely to have been born in Asian countries.
South Asian or Chinese people are now the two largest visible minority groups in the province.

Immigrants and visible minorities in Ontario tend to be concentrated in southern and central Ontario and in the province's largest cities, especially those in the Greater Toronto Area and Golden Horseshoe region. Ontario's North however, has yet to mirror the ever-increasing diversity of the southern part of the province, as few people say they are a member of a visible minority (less than 2%) and only a scattering of newcomers choose to settle there.

Download the Report (pdf)


  • Most immigrants and visible minorities in Ontario have a mother tongue language that is neither English nor French—though over 93% know one or both languages well enough to carry on a conversation.
  • Immigrants—especially recent immigrants—and members of visible minorities are better educated compared to Ontarians overall. Fully 61% of working-age newcomers have completed university—double the proportion of working-age Ontarians.
  • Collectively, visible minorities are much younger when compared to immigrants or the overall population—in contrast, there are far fewer children and significantly more seniors among immigrants.


  • Despite higher levels of education, newcomers suffer from lower employment, have less full-time work and may not find employment in their chosen fields.
  • Unemployment among women who are recent immigrants is double that of women in Ontario overall.
  • Recent immigrants are facing significant income disparity - their earnings through employment are approximately 55% that of the total population. Fully 62% of recent immigrants had annual income from all sources total less than $30,000 in 2005.
  • Incomes among visible minority workers fall between those of immigrants and recent immigrants, but are substantially lower than those of the total population.