Toronto: A City of Immigrants

Published on: August 29th, 2023
Last updated: August 30th, 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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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, according to Statistics Canada. 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?

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.


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