Mother Tongue and Language
This factsheet looks at mother tongue and language information released by Statistics Canada as part of the 2006 Census.
Non-Official Languages Growing Fastest
- In 2006, 8.3 million or 69.1% of Ontarians reported English as their mother tongue, a higher number but lower share than in 2001 (8 million or 71.3%).
- There were 510,240 people reporting French as their mother tongue in Ontario in 2006, a slight increase from 509,265 in 2001. They represented 4.2% of population in 2006, down from 4.5% in 2001.
- The declining share of Ontarians with English or French mother tongue is explained by the faster growth in the number of Allophones (people with a mother tongue other than English or French).
- In 2006, 3.2 million Ontarians were Allophones, representing 26.6% of the provincial population, up from 2.7 million or 24.2% in 2001.
- The 2006 Census showed that English remained the language spoken most often at home (81.4%).
Ontarians Reported More Than 200 Languages
- Ontarians reported more than 200 languages in completing the 2006 Census question on mother tongue. These include languages long associated
with immigration to Ontario, such as German, Italian, Ukrainian, Dutch and Polish.
- However, between 2001 and 2006, language groups from Asia and the Middle East recorded the largest gains. These language groups include the Chinese languages, Punjabi, Arabic and Urdu.
- In 2006, Chinese languages remained the third most numerous mother tongue group in Ontario, behind English and French.
- In 2006, nearly half a million people reported one of the Chinese languages as their mother tongue, representing 4.1% of Ontario’s population, up from 3.7% in 2001.
- Italian remains the fourth mother tongue in Ontario, but its numbers declined 4.7% since 2001. Spanish rose to fifth place, moving German down to sixth.
Toronto CMA: Largest Proportion of Allophones
- More than four in 10 people had a mother tongue other than English or French in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in 2006.
- The Chinese language group remains the dominant non-official language group in the Toronto CMA, having been reported by 419,750 people, or 19% (nearly one in five) of the CMA's population whose mother tongue is neither English nor French.
- Italian ranks second with 194,620 people, followed by Punjabi (137,730), Tagalog (113,875) and Portuguese (113,015).
Other Ontario Census Metropolitan Areas
- Peterborough (92.7%), Barrie (88.5%) and Brantford (88%) CMAs have the highest shares of Anglophones in their population.
- The CMAs with the highest shares of Francophones are Greater Sudbury (28%), Ottawa-Gatineau (Ont. part) (17.2%), Windsor (3.7%) and St. Catharines-Niagara (3.7%).
- Windsor (23.6%), Kitchener (23.1%) and Hamilton (22.4%) have the highest share of non-official language mother tongues in Ontario after Toronto (43.6%).
- The dominant non-official languages in Ottawa-Gatineau (Ont. Part) were Chinese languages and Arabic. European languages (Italian, Polish, Portuguese, German) were more prominent in Hamilton and Kitchener.
Ontario Municipalities (Population 5,000+)
- Among Ontario’s municipalities of at least 5,000 people in 2006, Markham (57.4%), Richmond Hill (54.1%), Vaughan (52.3%), Mississauga (48.9%) and Toronto (47.9%) have the highest share of non-official mother tongues.
- The highest shares of Anglophones are found in the municipalities of Tweed (96.1%), Stone Mills (96%), North Huron (95.7%), Petrolia (95.6%) and Dysart (95.3%).
- The highest shares of Francophones are in the municipalities of Hearst (89.7%), Alfred & Plantagenet (79.5%), Hawkesbury (78.4%), The Nation (70.3%) and Kapuskasing (67.9%).
Contact Paul Lewis (416) 325-0821 / Victor Caballero (416) 325-0825.
Office of Economic Policy
Labour and Demographic Analysis Branch