Mother Tongue and Language
This factsheet looks at mother tongue and language information released by Statistics Canada as part of the 2011 Census.
English, French and Non-Official Languages Grew at Similar Pace, Keeping the Shares Stable
- In 2011, 8.8 million Ontarians reported English as their
mother tongue, half a million more than in 2006. The
share increased slightly to 69.3% from 69.1% in 2006.
- There were 525,960 people reporting French as their
mother tongue in Ontario in 2011, a slight increase
from 510,240 in 2006. They represented 4.1% of
population in 2011, a modest change from 4.2% in
- In 2011, 3.4 million Ontarians were Allophones (people
with a mother tongue other than English or French), up
from 3.2 million in 2006. However, the share of this
group remained the same as in 2006, at 26.6%.
- The 2011 Census showed that English remained the
language spoken most often at home. Also, the
percentage of Ontarians speaking English most often
at home (81.1%) was substantially higher than the
share of the population with English as mother tongue
Some Non-official Mother Tongues Grew Significantly
- Around 200 languages were reported by Ontarians as
mother tongue in the 2011 Census. The top 25 of
these accounted for 96% of Ontario’s total population.
- Among mother tongues spoken by over 20,000
Ontarians in 2011 (28 of them), the fastest growing
since 2006 were Bengali (31.3%), Hindi (25.8%),
Persian (25.6%), Tagalog (24.2%), Arabic (20.3%),
and Punjabi (18.0%).
- In 2011, Chinese languages remained the most
numerous non-official mother tongue group in Ontario.
More than half a million people reported one of the
Chinese languages as their mother tongue,
representing 4.1% of Ontario’s population, unchanged
- Italian remained the fourth largest mother tongue in
Ontario, but its numbers declined 8.8% since 2006.
Spanish remained in fifth place. Punjabi and Tagalog
rose to the sixth and seventh places, pushing
Portuguese and German to the eighth and tenth
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 2011.
- The Chinese language group remained the dominant
non-official language group in the Toronto CMA, having
been reported by 455,200 people, or 19.8% of the
CMA's population whose mother tongue was neither
English nor French.
- Italian ranked second with 178,750 people, followed by
Punjabi (164,855), Tagalog (140,010) and Spanish
Other Ontario Census Metropolitan Areas
- Peterborough, Brantford, and Barrie CMAs had the
highest shares of Anglophones in their population, at
93.3%, 89.2% and 88.4%, respectively.
- The CMAs with the highest shares of Francophones
were Greater Sudbury (27.7%), Ottawa-Gatineau (Ont.
part) (16.8%), Windsor (3.7%) and St. Catharines-
Niagara and Kingston (tied at 3.5%).
- Toronto had the highest share of non-official languages
as mother tongue (43.3%), followed by Kitchener
(23.3%), Windsor (22.4%) and Hamilton (21.7%).
- 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
Ontario Municipalities (Population 5,000+)
- Among Ontario’s municipalities of at least 5,000 people
in 2011, Markham had the highest share of non-official
languages as mother tongue (58.9%), followed by
Richmond Hill (56.8%), Vaughan (51.6%), Mississauga >
(49.1%) and Toronto (46.1%).
- The highest shares of Anglophones were found in the
municipalities of Stone Mills (96.3%), Brockton (95.8%),
Greater Napanee and Douro-Dummer (tied at 95.7%),
and St. Clair and Perth (tied at 95.4%).
- The highest shares of Francophones were in the
municipalities of Hearst (87.6%), Hawkesbury (79.6%),
Alfred & Plantagenet (76.0%), Kapuskasing (69.1%) and
The Nation (67.7%).
Contact: Huan Nguyen (416) 325-0816
Office of Economic Policy
Labour and Demographic Analysis Branch