South Asian Insights

  • In 2006, the census enumerated an estimated 5,068,100 individuals who belonged to the visible minority population. They made up 16.2% of the total population in Canada.
  • Between 2001 and 2006, the visible minority population increased at a much faster pace than the total population. Its rate of growth was 27.2%, five times faster than the 5.4% increase for the population as a whole. 
  • The 2006 Census showed that 83.9% of the immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006 were born in regions other than Europe. 
  • Fully three-quarters (75.0%) of the immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006 belonged to a visible minority group. 
  • If 2006 immigration trends continue, Canada’s visible minority population will continue to grow much more quickly than the non-visible minority population. According to Statistics Canada’s population projections, members of visible minority groups could account for roughly one-fifth of the total population by 2017.
  • South Asians surpass Chinese as the largest visible minority group.  The South Asians became Canada’s largest visible minority group in 2006, surpassing Chinese for the first time. The populations of both were well over 1 million.
  • The 2006 Census enumerated an estimated 1,262,900 individuals who identified themselves as South Asian, a growth rate of 37.7% from 917,100 individuals in 2001. They represented one-quarter (24.9%) of all visible minorities, or 4.0% of the total population of Canada.
  •  Two most popular languages amongst South Asians were Punjabi – 5.9% and Urdu 4.8%.
  • In addition there were 9 other South Asian languages being spoken in Canada. Gujarati & Hindi ranked highest after Punjabi & Urdu as the ‘Most spoken languages at home’.

Immigrants to Toronto between 2001-2006

Country of Origin




Sri Lanka*






% of total immigrants





*Note: The term ‘South Asian’ includes people from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc.

1. Of every  1,000 people living in the Toronto area….

  • 45Were born in India
  • 39Were born in China
  • 27Were born in the Philippines
  • 21Were born in Hong Kong
  • 17Were born in Pakistan
  • 82Were born in other areas across Asia and the Middle East

In the city of Brampton alone, the percentage of the so-called visible minorities has increased from 40 to 57% (between 2001-06), with most of the newcomers arriving from South Asia.