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The Great White North no more: Almost 7 in 10 Canadian Metro Residents will be non-White in two Decades
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The Great White North no more: Almost 7 in 10 Canadian Metro Residents will be non-White in two Decades


Canada is experiencing the fastest rate of ethnic change of any country in the Western world, say international demographers.

Almost seven of 10 Metro Vancouver residents will be visible minorities, or non-whites, in less than two decades, says Eric Kaufmann, a professor at University of London, Birkbeck, citing Statistics Canada projections.

In addition, Kaufmann said, University of Laval professor Patrice Dion has worked with Statistics Canada officials to develop projections that suggest Canada as a whole, at the current rate of immigration, will be almost 80 per cent non-white in less than a century.

While the rapid pace of change likely will not hurt Canada’s economy, Kaufmann said, it will continue to have great effect on the ethnic make-up of cities such as Greater Toronto and Metro Vancouver.

These two Canadian cities will soon, or already have, become “majority minority,” a term describing places in which one or more ethnic minority (relative to the country’s population) make up a majority of the local population.

A 2017 Statistics Canada report, titled Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections, forecasts the number of Canadians with visible minority status will “increase more rapidly than the rest of the population” and “could more than double by 2036 to between 12.8 million and 16.3 million.”

The cities that will have the highest levels of visible minorities by 2036 will be Greater Toronto, Metro Vancouver, Calgary, Abbotsford-Mission, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Non-whites already make up almost half the residents of Greater Toronto and Metro Vancouver.

But Statistics Canada projects the working-age population of Greater Toronto will expand to roughly 71 per cent non-white by 2036, while Metro Vancouver’s working-age population will be more than 66 per cent non-white. Abbotsford-Mission’s portion will be 52 per cent.

Meanwhile, Victoria and Kelowna will remain less than 25 per cent non-white. So will Quebec, the Maritimes and rural Canada.

Kaufmann, who was born in Hong Kong to mixed-race parents and raised in West Vancouver, has studied how neighbourhoods change in Britain, Canada and elsewhere when there is a brisk influx of mostly non-white immigrants.

“Minorities will move into relatively white areas, but whites generally do not move into strongly minority areas. Whites have, and will, tend to move toward relatively white areas,” said Kaufmann.

Along with political scientist Gareth Harris, he wrote the book, Changing Places: Mapping the White British Response to Ethnic Change.

Kaufmann and Harris have tracked “white withdrawal” in Britain and Canada, monitoring how whites tend to “unconsciously” move out of neighbourhoods when a large influx of non-white immigrants moves in.

The white depopulation phenomenon has occurred in Canada in cities such as Richmond and Burnaby in B.C., and Markham and Scarborough in Ontario, Kaufmann said.

In separate research Postmedia determined that, while the ethnic Chinese population of Richmond grew by almost 80,000 people between 1981 and 2011, the white population declined by 28,000 people.

“Is white withdrawal a problem? Only insofar as this makes it less likely that newcomers will have contact with the historic majority of a country,” Kaufmann said.

Kaufmann and Harris don’t use the term “white flight” to describe this pattern because they don’t think it is normally fuelled by racism or xenophobia.

“White conservatives and liberals, racists and cosmopolitans, all move to relatively white areas at similar rates,” they say in Changing Places, published by Demos, which describes itself as Britain’s “leading cross-party think-tank.”

Since Western countries remain among the relative few in the world that welcome immigrants, Kaufmann said, it’s significant many politicians in Europe and the U.S. have been increasingly calling for lower immigration.

Meanwhile, Canada is undergoing “the fastest rate of ethnic change of any country in the Western world,” Kaufmann said, describing how 300,000 immigrants are arriving each year in a country of 35 million people, with four in five of those immigrants being visible minorities.

“The United States’ per capita immigration rate is only one-third to one-half as fast as Canada’s. … At the same time (U.S. President Donald) Trump has promised to reduce America’s inflows by half,” Kaufmann said.

“Europe is also generally tightening inflows and only 300,000 non-Europeans enter the European Union, population 510 million, each year. Most immigrant-receiving Western European states will be at least three-quarters European origin in 2050.”

In Canada, whites currently make up about 80 per cent of the population.

Kaufmann, however, drew attention to a study led by the University of Laval’s Patrice Dion and Statistics Canada official Eric Caron-Malenfant that projects that by 2106, the vast majority of Canada’s population will be descendants of immigrants who arrived after 2006.

Assuming that four in five immigrants during that time period will continue to be non-white, Kaufmann projected that by 2106 whites will account for between 12 to 38 per cent of the population.

“I think a reasonable middle conclusion is that Canada will be 20 per cent white, 65 per cent non-white and 15 per cent mixed race by 2106,” he said.

“Canada will probably become a ‘majority-minority’ country around 2060.”


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