2011 CENSUS HIGHLIGHTS: Factsheet 6

Mother Tongue and Language

Population by Mother Tongue, Ontario Population by Language Spoken at Home, Ontario Non-official Mother Tongues, Ontario Mother Tongue Distribution, Toronto CMA Mother Tongue Distribution, Ontario CMAs, 2011 Ontario Municipalities (5,000+) with High Shares of Non-Official Mother Tongues, 2011

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 2006.
  • 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 (69.3%).

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 from 2006.
  • 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 positions.

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 (127,830).

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 Kitchener.

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%).

November 5, 2012

Contact: Huan Nguyen (416) 325-0816

Office of Economic Policy
Labour and Demographic Analysis Branch