Diversity in Toronto: A Community Profile

With a population of nearly 2.5 million, Toronto is Ontario's largest and most cosmopolitan city.

south asian family jpgThere is no doubt that Toronto is the province's (and Canada's) most diverse city. In 2006, fully half of Torontonians were immigrants and nearly as many (47%) identified as a member of a visible minority.

Diversity in Toronto has been increasing for decades and this growth shows no signs of slowing. Immigration is on the rise and if current trends continue, the 10-year period between 2001 and 2010 may bring the arrival of the largest proportion of immigrants yet.

Toronto is a likely destination for recent immigrants; in fact more than 10% of the city's total population are newcomers. But while many recent immigrants are settling here, almost as many immigrants who arrived prior to 2001 are leaving the city—many to the suburban centres that border Toronto,
resulting in just a small increase in the total immigrants living in the city.

The fastest growing group is people who identify as a visible minority. In the five years between 2001 and 2006, this group grew by nearly 11%. In the same period, Toronto's total population grew by less than 1%.

People from East or South Asia comprise the two largest visible minority groups in Toronto—this is highly reflective of the increasing trend of recent immigrants to originate from Asian countries.

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Community Highlights

  • On the whole, people in visible minority groups are much younger when compared to the overall population; more than half of all youth in Toronto say they are a member of a visible minority.
  • Chinese languages are the most prevalent non-official mother tongues both for immigrants and visible minorities. Most immigrants and people in visible minority groups in Toronto have neither English nor French as mother tongue - though over 90% know one or both languages well enough to carry on a conversation
  • A larger proportion of Torontonians - including immigrants, recent immigrants and visible minorities - are worse off economically than Ontarians overall. Immigrant children and visible minority seniors are particularly at risk.
  • As a group, recent immigrants are better educated than Torontonians overall—62% of working-age newcomers have completed university.
  • Despite having higher educational attainment, recent immigrants are more likely to be unemployed, to work part-time as opposed to full-time, and to have lower incomes. This imbalance means newcomers face significant income disparity. On the whole, their average income is roughly half that of the total Toronto population.
  • Within Toronto, more than one-third of recent immigrant households is economically worse off than the average and young children who are immigrants are particularly at risk.