An increasingly diverse linguistic landscape: Highlights from the 2016 Census

Statistics Canada has released its study of the diverse linguistic landscape in Canada.  The study found that, “Linguistic diversity is on the rise in Canada. Close to 7.6 million Canadians reported speaking a language other than English or French at home in 2016, an increase of almost 1 million (+14.5%) people over 2011. Moreover, the proportion of the Canadian population who speak more than one language at home rose from 17.5% in 2011 to 19.4% in 2016.”

Other keys findings in the study include:

  • In this context of increasing linguistic diversity, English and French remain the languages of convergence and integration into Canadian society: 93.4% of Canadians speak English or French at least on a regular basis at home.
  • Similarly, 21.8% of Canadians reported speaking an “other” language at home in 2016, compared with 20.0% in 2011.
  • Over 7.3 million people reported speaking an immigrant language at home. The main immigrant languages spoken at home by Canadians in 2016 were Mandarin (641,100 people), Cantonese (594,705 people), Punjabi (568,375 people), Spanish (553,495 people), Tagalog (Pilipino) (525,375 people) and Arabic (514,200 people).
  • Ontario accounted for nearly half (49.5%) of Canadians whose mother tongue or language spoken at home was an immigrant language in 2016, down slightly from 2011 (50.9% for mother tongue and 51.2% for language spoken at home).
  • Tagalog (Pilipino) is the main immigrant language spoken at home in the Prairie provinces. From 2011 to 2016, Tagalog (Pilipino) increased 123.1% in Saskatchewan, 68.3% in Alberta and 42.3% in Manitoba.
  • In numbers, Punjabi was the main immigrant language spoken at home in British Columbia (222,720 people) in 2016, up 10.9% from 2011, followed closely by Mandarin (202,625 people) and Cantonese (200,280 people).
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