(with notes from Bonnie Mah)
We know that immigrants overwhelmingly choose to settle in cities and metropolitan areas. This is confirmed by the latest Statistics Canada numbers. Between July 2011 and 2012, census metropolitan areas (CMA) received 92% of immigrants to Canada.
The numbers also tell of a different trend. While Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver MTV continue to be the main magnets for immigrants (in 2011-2012, approximately 60% of all immigrants to Canada settled in one of these CMAs), immigration has become increasingly important for smaller cities. Yes, the number of immigrants settling in smaller cities is still relatively small, but the proportion of immigrants going to smaller cities has increased from 5% in 2001-2002 to 8% in 2011-2012.
This trend towards smaller cities is even more prevalent in many small CMAs in western Canada and the prairies (e.g.Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary and Edmonton) which are attracting a large proportion of immigrants. In fact, between 2001-2002 and 2011-2012, the share of immigrants settling in these five CMAs nearly tripled, from 7% to 20%.
This trend to smaller cities isn’t entirely surprising. We’ve seen reports about immigrants moving out of Toronto, for example, to smaller centres.
Not all regions are experiencing the same trend. Economic regions in Western Canada (especially Alberta and Saskatchewan) are experiencing the highest population growth, while Atlantic Canada recorded the lowest growth. According to the latest numbers, immigration is the main driver of population growth in more than one-third of economic regions – e.g. Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto, Saskatoon-Biggar, Regina-Moose Mountain, Vancouver, and Halifax.
What does this mean for cities?
This confirms that cities are critical integration actors. It means that all cities, small and large, need to take a look at how they attract, welcome and include newcomers. In Ontario, small and large municipalities have been creating immigration portals to ensure that newcomers find, choose and stay in their cities.
Cities of all sizes need to understand the importance of attracting, welcoming and have immigrants grow roots in their communities. And we can help.
Our Cities of Migration site focuses on sharing good ideas about integrating immigrants in cities. We’ve just completed a series of publications, Good Ideas from Successful Cities: Municipal Leadership in Immigrant Integration, that all cities should read.
The series highlights more than 70 promising practices from cities in Europe, North America,Australia and New Zealand. Some of the featured cities are old hands at integration – such as Toronto, London, and New York. Others you may find more surprising – such as Newport News, Richmond Hill, Valongo. The final publication applies a policy lens, looking at what good practices can tell us about the role of local governments in immigrant integration. Four international experts have contributed analysis and policy insights on the range of municipal levers available to promote both immigrants and city success.
It’s also practical. We’ve made specific recommendations for local governments and community partners. We think you’ll find them useful.
- Good Ideas from Successful Cities: Municipal Leadership in Immigrant Integration
- Practice to Policy: Lessons from Local Leadership on Immigrant Integration (full report, PDF)
- Good Ideas from Successful Cities: Municipal Leadership in Immigrant Integration (PDF)
- Taking It to the Streets: A Municipal Role in Immigrant Integration
- Recommendations for Local Governments and Community Partners
- From Practice to Policy
Statistics Canada glossary notes:
What is a CMA? A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more must live in the core. Slightly more than two-thirds of the Canadian population live in CMAs.
What is an economic region? An economic region is a group of census divisions (counties and their equivalents) that are grouped together to analyze their regional economic activity.