Toronto: A City of Immigrants

Published on: August 29th, 2023
Last updated: December 18th, 2023

In the city of Toronto, immigrants are leading the way, making up nearly half of the entire population! Located in the province of Ontario, Canada’s most popular destination for new immigrants, Toronto stands strong as one of the most inviting Canadian cities for immigrants.

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Looking at the numbers, Toronto is staggeringly popular among immigrants, more so than any other city in Canada. Located in the province of Ontario, the city of Toronto is in the geographic centre of Canada, a relatively short drive to the nation’s capital of Ottawa, the French-Canadian hub of Montreal, and the border to the United States.

For those looking for a welcoming environment for newcomers within the bustling metropolis of Canada’s largest city, Toronto offers an unparalleled living situation!

The numbers: How Many immigrants Live in Toronto?

Considering that Toronto remains one of the most popular destinations for new immigrants, it is likely that soon the immigrant population will exceed half of the total population.

According to the 2021 Census by Statistics Canada, Toronto, Canada’s largest city, witnessed a significant presence of non-Canadian citizens, accounting for 17.3% of its population. This marked a decline in citizenship from 85.3% in 2016 to 82.7% in 2021, a trend mirrored at the national level, where citizenship dropped from 94.2% in 2016 to 91.2% in 2021.

Toronto stands out as the top destination for immigrants in Canada, hosting the highest number of newcomers. Since 2001, immigration to Toronto has been on the rise, growing from just over 123,000 people in 2001 to nearly 160,000 in 2021.

The city’s immigrant population is concentrated in its urban center, with 46.6% of the population in the Greater Toronto Area being immigrants. In some municipalities within this area, such as Markham (58.6%), Richmond Hill (58.2%), Mississauga (53.2%), and Brampton (52.9%), immigrants make up more than half of the residents.

Despite representing 7.6% of Canada’s total population, Toronto hosts 15.7% of the country’s nonpermanent residents, a decrease from 18.5% in 2016. Toronto maintains its significance as a primary destination for immigrants, with 1 in 7 international migrants to Canada choosing to settle in the city.

Why is Toronto such a popular destination?

There are many reasons why people choose to live in Toronto. However, when asked about it, most Torontonians will mention some or all of the following:

Employment: Toronto has one of the strongest economies in the country. There are many job opportunities across a range of industries. Most recently, Toronto has been ranked as one of the leading tech-jobs markets in North America, making it an extremely attractive destination for those working in computer programming, software engineering, and database management positions.

Culture: The city is well-known for its vibrant cultural offerings. The city has exquisite cuisines from around the world, incredible cultural neighbourhoods, like Chinatown and Little Italy, and some amazing artistic companies and festivals. Every year the city hosts the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the most well-known film festivals in the world, and plays home to the prestigious Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) and the renowned National Ballet of Canada.

Diversity: According to the 2016 census, immigrants made up a staggering 49% of the city’s population. While this number may seem high, it makes sense when considering the many different cultures, neighborhoods, and activities offered by the city. Toronto has always celebrated its multicultural population, touting diversity as a strength, even being named the most diverse city in the world by BBC Radio in 2016.

Access to Services: Toronto has a robust public transit system, allowing its residents to travel quickly and easily throughout the city using subways, busses, streetcars, and GoTrains. As well, as with every city in Canada, citizens and permanent residents have access to universal healthcare and social services. This means that residents can access the many hospitals and community services which promote their health and well-being.

One of the Top Destinations for New Immigrants

In terms of immigration, cities have always been a popular destination for new immigrants. Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, top the list of destinations for new immigrants coming to Canada. Cities offer a range of employment opportunities, a host of newcomer and settlement services, and many cultural communities where immigrants can live in neighbourhoods near others from their cultural backgrounds.

Toronto, specifically, offers a unique opportunity for new immigrants. The city is hailed as Canada’s tech-hub, often being heralded as one of the most competitive tech-jobs markets in North America. Those looking for careers in software engineers, application development, and computer programming, will be hard pressed to find a better labour market than that of Toronto.

The city is well-known for its vibrant culture, offering cuisines and festivals which celebrate communities and customs from around the world. This, in addition to a number of different cultural communities, like Little Italy and Chinatown, makes Toronto a uniquely attractive option for many Canadian newcomers.

How to immigrate to Toronto?

The simplest way to immigrate to Toronto is through Canada’s Express Entry immigration system. This system provides speedy processing times for skilled workers looking to immigrate to Canada. Prospective immigrants who have already lived and worked in Canada are probably best suited for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) of Express Entry. Meanwhile, those living outside of Canada who have skilled work experience, are likely best suited for the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program.

Another great option is the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) which is Ontario’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). This program offers specialized immigration pathways for French-speakers, entrepreneurs, graduates from Ontario universities, among others.

If you want to learn more about the immigration programs for living in Toronto, you can check out our article titled “Top 4 Ways to Immigrate to Toronto.” This article will give you a better understanding of the best options available for moving to this wonderful city.



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