Filipinos in Canada, including those of Filipino descent, numbered nearly one million in April, 2018 — this included a mix of naturalized citizens, permanent residents, temporary work permit holders, and those in the country as students. This total meant that Filipinos or Filipino-Canadians were the fourth largest visible minority community in Canada after the South Asian, Chinese, and Black communities.
This sizable community means that Filipinos and Filipino-Canadians have a population akin to Ottawa, Canada’s capital city.
The majority of Filipino citizens have settled in towns and cities in Ontario and British Columbia, but there are also significant Filipino communities in Winnipeg, MB, and Calgary, AB. If you are a newcomer to Canada from the Philippines and want an idea of where you should set up base in the Great White North, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get to it!
According to 2019 data on the location of Filipino citizens in Canada as permanent residents or recently naturalized citizens, Toronto was comfortably the most popular destination with almost 119,000 people. When you factor in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), this figure jumps to over 192,000. As we mentioned previously, this figure doesn’t take into account the thousands of second and third-generation Filipino-Canadians, as well as more recent arrivals in the country on study and temporary work permits.
Unlike other immigrant groups in Toronto, the growing Filipino community has tended to settle in downtown Toronto or one of its nearby urban neighbourhoods as opposed to settling in the outskirts of the GTA. This is the inverse of trends seen among other large immigrant communities – Indians, for example – the majority of whom tend to settle outside the City of Toronto itself, but within the GTA. The wealth of job opportunities across all sectors makes Toronto an obvious choice for newcomers from the Philippines to Canada. However, if you are hoping to make the move to Toronto then you need to know that it won’t be cheap.
One Filipino-Canadian enjoying life in Toronto is Gelaine Santiago, a successful entrepreneur who launched an online fashion retail website, Cambio & Co., that bridges Canada and Philippines culturally and economically. Cambio & Co’s products are produced by artisans in the Philippines, and Cambio & Co. is used as the e-commerce platform that enables the artisans to connect to a global market. We recently spoke with Gelaine about her experience in Canada.
Whatever way you look at it, rent and the general cost of living in Toronto is expensive. According to Numbeo, the price of a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto’s city-centre was approximately $2,173 per month in 2019. A monthly transport pass was roughly $150 per month, and private childcare for one child would cost parents around $1,524 each month. If you are looking for a more affordable option that is still within touching-distance of Toronto then you might want to consider one of the smaller cities in the the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
The appeal of Vancouver for newcomers to Canada from the Philippines is very clear. The city is a leading player in the film and visual effects industries, and also offers a wide range of employment opportunities in engineering, construction, health sciences, financial services, and much more besides. There were almost 100,000 Filipino citizens resident in Vancouver as permanent residents and naturalized citizens in 2016, with the number growing considerably when second- and third-generation Filipino-Canadians, as well as temporary workers and students, were added to the mix.
Highly-skilled Filipino graduates are the perfect match for many employers in these sectors, while the wide range of colleges and universities in the Greater Vancouver area mean that it’s a hot spot for Filipino students.
Throw in the temperate climate that Vancouver offers (pretty much the only major city in Canada that can promise such), as well as jaw-dropping natural beauty for outdoor enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why so many recent arrivals from the Philippines have chosen British Columbia’s largest city as their home away from home in Canada. The one catch is accommodation. Unfortunately, renting or buying property in Vancouver isn’t cheap. According to Numbeo, a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Vancouver can cost anywhere around $2,050 per month, while the price per square metre to buy a property is approximately $12,481.
When it comes to leaders in the Filipino community, many point to the election of Mable Elmore, whose mother immigrated to Canada from the Philippines, to the British Columbia Legislative Assembly in 2009 as an important moment.