Dispatches from Canadian cities

April 12th, 2010

The Changing Face of Canadian Cities. Statistics Canada recently released projections which show that in the coming two decades, the population and diversity of Canadians cities will significantly increase.

By 2031, between 25% and 28% of the population could be foreign-born and the vast majority (96%) of people belonging to a visible minority group will be living in cities. By 2031, visible minority groups would comprise 63% of the population of Toronto, 59% in Vancouver and 31% in Montréal.

In Canadian cities “visible minorities” are becoming “the new majority,” begging the question of what “visible” will mean in the future.

Coinciding with the release of this research, the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) polled 2,000 Canadians to examine their views on racial discrimination. The overall results were positive: Canadians see themselves as an accepting culture, and as one that is growing more tolerant.

International research by Transatlantic Trends also confirmed that few Canadians consider immigration a hot-button issue and most dismiss the notion that immigration has become more of a problem than an opportunity. However, as much as Canadians believe in an open and inclusive society, the reality is that many new immigrants struggle.

The Canadian online forum, The Mark, recently convened a group of actors to comment on the challenges and opportunities of the changing Canada. The discussion included Ratna Omidvar, Maytree Foundation, on creating sustainable and inclusive cities, and other local experts on why we need to advocate for letting non-citizen immigrants vote in local elections, as well as thoughts from the private sector on how to break the cycle of poverty that many immigrants find themselves in.

What is measured is what counts, goes the old addage. Examining public attitudes to immigration,  helps us understand the challenges faced by new immigrants to our cities.

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