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Migration to Canada: visible presence

The flow of Latin Americans and Caribbeans to Canada has been associated with a series of factors, such as the demand for specialized workers, immigrant training programs, asylum, and social networks. This migration has unique characteristics compared with other destinations, and it has a specifically temporary component.

With a stock numbering 700,000 persons in 2006, the latest census year, this country is in third place among destinations of Latin American and Caribbean emigrants to developed countries, following the United States and Spain.

Canada is one of the countries with the highest percentage of immigrants—20% of its total population—the highest in the past 75 years; it is a population that comes from the most diverse regions of the world. Of total recent migrants (those who arrived from 2001 to 2006), migrants of Latin American and Caribbean origin account for 11%, an increase of almost two point over 2001 (9%). Migrants from Asia, including the Middle East, are still the largest group, at 59% (which is less than the percentage recorded in 2001). In second place are Europeans, at 16% of total recent immigrants.

In 2006, 57% of the stock of Latin Americans and Caribbeans were of Caribbean origin, broken down as follows: over 123,00 migrants from Jamaica; more than 87,000 from Guyana; over 65,000 from Trinidad and Tobago; and, over 63,000 from Haiti. Among South Americans, who account for almost 24% of total Latin Americans and Caribbeans, Colombians form the principal stock, with over 39,000 persons, followed by Chileans (27,00), and Peruvians (22,000). Among Central Americans, most immigrants were born in Mexico (50,000) and El Salvador (nearly 43,000) (see Table 3).

TABLE 3 Canada: stocks of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants by country of birth: 1996, 2001 and 2006

País de nacimiento 1996 2001 2006
 
América del Sur 106.205 113.04 162.655
Argentina 12.495 12.015 18.12
Bolivia 2.435 —— 3.77
Brasil 10.2 11.705 15.12
Colombia 9.855 15.505 39.145
Chile 26.945 24.495 26.505
Ecuador 10.25 10.905 13.48
Paraguay 5.14 —— 7.53
Perú 16.2 17.125 22.08
Uruguay 5.955 —— 6.635
Rep. Bolivariana de Venezuela 6.73 —— 10.27
Otros América del Sur —— 21.29 ——
Mesoamérica 103.11 108.09 130.45
Belice 1.595 —— 2.08
Costa Rica 1.875 —— 2.94
El Salvador 40.18 38.46 42.78
Guatemala 13.965 13.68 15.705
Honduras 3.935 —— 5.165
México 30.085 36.225 49.925
Nicaragua 8.960 9.375 9.095
Panamá 2.515 —— 2.76
Otros Mesoamérica —— 10.35 ——
Caribe 366.64 377.59 388.555
Barbados 15.62 14.65 15.325
Cuba 3.395 —— 8.865
Granada 7.805 —— 8.74
Guayana Francesa 65 —— 55
Guyana 78.28 83.535 87.194
Haití 51.145 52.625 63.35
Jamaica 117.795 120.21 123.42
República Dominicana 4.875 —— 6.505
San Vicente 7.505 —— 8.795
Suriname 900 —— 765
Trinidad y Tabago 63.565 64.145 65.540
Otros Caribe 15.69 42.425 ——
Total región 575.955 598.72 681.66

Source: Canadian population censuses, 20% samplings (www.statcan.ca)

With regard to immigration from other origins, there was a slight increase among Latin Americans and Caribbeans between 2001 and 2006 (see graph 4), from 8.9% to 10.8% of total foreign residents. This increase can be interpreted in two ways: on the one hand, it does not equal 1991 levels, when regional migration peaked at around 16%; however, the increase represents an inflection or turning point in the downward trend recorded from that year up to 2001. In any event, immigration of Asian origin has clearly predominated since the 1980’s, rising to 58% of the total in 2006.

Graph 4 Canada: region of birth of recent immigrants, 1971 to 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, censuses of population, 1971 to 2006. http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/as-sa/97-557/figures/c2-eng.cfm
Notes: Recent immigrants refers to immigrants who arrived in Canada within the five years prior to the census in question. “Others” includes Greenland, St. Pierre, and Miquelon, the “other country” category, and a small number of immigrants born in Canada.