Statistics Canada report states language diversity due to immigration in Canada

Julia Hornstein
Published: August 22, 2022

Immigration has continued to enrich Canada’s linguistic diversity.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

The Statistics Canada report found that 4.6 million Canadians predominately speak a language other than English and French at home. In particular, 1 in 4 Canadians in 2021, or 9 million people, had a mother tongue other than English and French. This is a record high since 1901, when Statistics Canada began to include data on mother tongues.

Granted, English and French remain the most commonly spoken languages in Canada. More than 9 in 10 Canadians speak one of the two official languages at home on a regular basis.

Language diversity due to immigration

Immigration has been increasing the number of Canadians who speak a language other than English and French at home. The number of Canadians who spoke predominately a South Asian language at home grew significantly from 2016 to 2021.

While the Canadian population grew 5.2% from 2016 to 2021, the number of Canadians who spoke a South Asian language at home grew much faster, particularly speakers of Malayalam (+129%), Hindi, (+66%), Punjabi (+49%) and Gujarati (+43%). In fact, the growth rate of the number of speakers of South Asian languages was at least eight times larger than that of the entire Canadian population.

This growth is largely due to immigration, with one quarter of the permanent residents who arrived in Canada between 2016 and 2020 were brown in a South Asian country, and 1 in 5 were born in India.

Notwithstanding English and French, Mandarin and Punjabi were Canada’s most widely spoken languages. In 2021, more than half a million Canadians spoke predominately Mandarin at home and more than half a million spoke Punjabi.

At the same time, there was a decline in the number of Canadians who spoke predominately European languages at home. This decrease is primarily linked to the speakers of these languages aging, a significant proportion of whom immigrated to Canada before 1980. In addition, there are relatively few immigrations from Italy, Poland or Greece who have recently arrived in Canada.

Canadians who spoke a language other than English and French were more likely to live in a large urban center than other Canadians. Each year, large urban centres are the destination of a significant proportion of immigrants who settle in Canada, which increases the linguistic diversity of these centers.

More than 70 different languages are spoken in Canada. In 2021, 189,000 people reported having at least one Indigenous mother tongue and 183,000 reported speaking an Indigenous language at home on a regular basis.

Cree languages and Inuktitut are the main indigenous languages in Canada.

English and French

The vast majority of Canadians speak at least one of Canada’s two official languages. In 2021, 98.1% of the Canadian population could have a conversation in English and French, and 92.9% spoke English or French at home on a regular basis.

English is the first official language spoken by just over 3 in 4 Canadians, which has increased from 2016. English was also the mother tongue of more than half of the country’s population.

French is the first official language spoken by an increasing number of Canadians. In 2021, more than 1 in 5 Canadians spoke French at home on a regular basis. From 2016 to 2021, the number of Canadian who spoke predominately French at home rose in Quebec, British Columbia and Yukon, but decreased in other provinces and territories.

According to the report, this decrease is due to a combination of factors such as an older population on average, incomplete transmission of French from one generation to the next, and linguistic transfers (when a person speaks a language at home that is different from their mother tongue).

For the first time, the number of people in Quebec whose first official language spoken is English topped 1 million, but the proportion of bilingual English-French Canadians remained virtually unchanged since 2016. Moreover, the number of French speakers in Quebec is increasing, but their proportion in Quebec is decreasing.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at media@canadavisa.com
Related articles
Newcomers who came to Canada in second year of COVID-19 pandemic had better median entry wages than pre-pandemic: Statistics Canada
Young happy executive manager holding business meeting with her coworkers in the office and looking at camera
Study: Newcomers who use social media before arriving in Canada are more likely to find skilled work
Businesswoman using smartphone after working with laptop on table.
Immigrant employment rate in Canada rose in 2023
Human resource manager shaking hands with male candidate during job interview in the office
Immigration fuels Canada’s highest population growth since 1957
Toronto skyline under construction
Top Stories
British Columbia and Manitoba issue provincial nominations in latest PNP results
Canada’s immigration minister proposes new legislation for Canadian citizenship by descent
IRCC now accepting community applications for two new pilot programs
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe
More in Canada
IRCC now accepting community applications for two new pilot programs
Rural and Francophone communities can now apply to participate in new pilot programs.
How can I improve the chances that the processing of my application is not delayed?
Happy female traveler waiting for the flight in the airport
Provincial and federal immigration ministers meet to discuss shared priorities
Immigration ministers from all provinces and territories have met to discuss shared priorities.
How do I check the status of my IRCC application?
Two friends high-fiving in front of a laptop on a sunny day
Link copied to clipboard