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Some 22% of Canada’s population is made up of immigrants who were born abroad, the highest proportion in almost a century, according to 2016 census data published today.

It represents over 7.5 million people, and Statistics Canada predicts that share of the population will rise to between 24.5% and 30% by 2036, as numbers of foreign-born immigrants increase.

The figures are contained in the latest census data set, which focused on immigration and ethnocultural diversity.

The government aims to bring around 300,000 immigrants to Canada in 2017, with the 2018 targets to be revealed in the coming days.

Immigrants Canada: backgrounds

Almost half of the foreign-born immigrant population is from Asia (48.1%), with 20.7% coming from mainland Europe. Some seven per cent are from the UK and Ireland – significantly lower than the 83.6% figure seen when data was first collected in 1871.

The data also revealed almost two-fifths of children in Canada (37.5%) had at least one foreign-born parent, with current trends suggesting this will rise as high as 49.1% in the next 20 years.

To find out which immigrants Canada is seeking and how they arrive, it is also helpful to note the immigration categories through which immigrants are admitted. Immigration strategies between 2011 and 2016 are reflected, with the figures showing six in ten immigrants who arrived in Canada during that time period came via an economic program. Three in ten were admitted under family class, with one in ten admitted as refugees.

Close to 860,000 refugees admitted since 1980 still lived in Canada when census data was collected last year. Among them is the current Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen, who arrived in Toronto in 1993 as a refugee from Somalia. In the five years before census night, 26,550 refugees arrived in Canada from Syria.

Almost 190,000 immigrants in the five-year period came from the Philippines – more than any other country. It’s followed by India (147,000) and China (129,000), while Iran, Pakistan, the USA, Syria, the UK, France, and South Korea complete the top 10.

Over 93% of immigrants are able to converse in either English or French – despite only 27.5% holding one of those languages as their mother tongue.

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More Canadians trace their ancestry to England than any other foreign country (6.3 million). Next on the list are Scotland (4.8 million), France (4.7 million), and Ireland (4.6 million). Almost a third of the Canadian population (32.5%) trace their ancestry to either the UK or Ireland.

Immigrants Canada: shift in location preferences

Immigrants arriving from 2011 to 2016 are still choosing to settle in Ontario more than any other location, but the proportion of newcomers selecting the province is falling. It now stands at 39%, down from 55.9% in 2001.

Figures in the Prairie provinces have more than doubled in the past 15 years, with 17.1% of immigrants now choosing Alberta (up from 6.9%), 5.2% choosing Manitoba (up from 1.8%), and 4% opting for Saskatchewan (up from 1%).

Alberta is now more popular than British Columbia, where 14.5% of recent immigrants have decided to live.

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