South Asians become Canada’s biggest visible minority

April 3rd, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by admin  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, April 3 (IANS) Canada is fast changing its colours. Visible minorities or non-whites have now crossed the five million mark, making up about 16.2 percent of the Canadian population, according to the latest census. For the first time, South Asians have also surpassed the Chinese to become the largest visible minority in Canada, revealed the 2001-2006 census report released Wednesday.

At 1.3 million, the South Asians - Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis - constitute about four percent of Canada’s population.

At 1.1 million, the Chinese are the second largest visible minority group in Canada.

Currently, only Australia has more people from visible minorities than Canada.

If the current immigration trends continue, non-whites will account for 20 percent of the Canadian population by 2017.

Today, they account for more 75 percent of immigration into Canada, and the population of the visible minorities has grown by 38 percent over the 2001 figures.

Since about 96 percent of people from visible minorities live in urban areas, they have become majorities in many Canadian cities.

Markham near Toronto has 65.4 percent of its population from visible minorities.

The figures for Richmond are 65.1 percent, Burnaby 55.4 percent, Vancouver 51 percent, Toronto 46.9 percent and Surrey 46.1 percent.

Of the 1.3 million South Asians, 54 percent live in Ontario province. In fact, they make up about 13.5 percent of Toronto city population alone.

Their second biggest concentration is in the Vancouver metropolitan area where they account for 9.9 percent of the total population.

Interestingly, Surrey - also known as the Southall of Canada - accounts for almost half of the 200,000-plus South Asians living in the Vancouver metropolitan area.

And at 16.5 percent, Abbotsford, not far from Vancouver, has the highest concentration of South Asians (read Punjabis) in Canada.

Canada currently gets about 250,000 immigrants each year, with China being the largest source of newcomers. But this year, India is set to surpass China as the number one source for immigration into this country.

With the Conservative government planning major immigration changes, it remains to be seen how these numbers are affected.

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