Ethnic Origin and Visible Minorities
This factsheet looks at data on ethnic origin and visible minorities released by
Statistics Canada as part of the 2011 National Household Survey1. In the
Census, visible minorities are defined as persons who are non-Caucasian in race
or non-white in colour and who do not report being Aboriginal.
Ontario’s Population is Highly Diverse
- Ethnic origin refers to the ethnic or cultural origins of the
- The ethnic origin most often reported in the 2011 National
Household Survey was Canadian. An estimated
2,946,095 people living in Ontario reported Canadian as
their ethnic origin, either alone or in combination with
- Canadian was followed closely by English, reported by
- Other most reported ethnic origins in Ontario were
Scottish (2,080,545), Irish (2,069,110), French
(1,362,320), German (1,154,550), Italian (883,990) and
Chinese (713,245), East Indian (678,465) and Dutch
- In total, more than 200 ethnic origins were reported by
Ontarians in the 2011 NHS.
One in Four Ontarians A Member of the Visible Minority Population
- In 2011, 3,279,565 Ontarians identified themselves as a
member of the visible minority population.
- These individuals comprised 25.9% of Ontario’s total
population; represented more than half of Canada’s total
visible minorities (6.3 million).
- The vast majority of visible minorities live in urban
centres, of which 2.6 million live in the Toronto Census
Metropolitan Area (CMA).
- Between 2006 and 2011, Ontario’s visible minority
population increased nearly five times faster than the
population as a whole (19.5% vs. 4.0%). Ontario’s
301,430 people who self-identified as aboriginal are not
counted as part of the visible minority population.
- Of the 3.3 million Ontarians who identified themselves as
visible minority, three in ten (31.0%) were born in
Canada, while 69.0% were born outside Canada.
South Asian was the Largest Visible Minority
- Combined, the three largest visible minority groups in
2011 – South Asians, Chinese and Blacks – accounted
for nearly two-thirds (65.1%) of visible minorities.
- South Asian was the single largest visible minority group,
accounting for 29.5% of visible minorities and 7.6% of
Ontario’s total population.
- The South Asian population grew 21.6%, from 794,170 in
2006 to 965,900 in 2011.
Visible Minorities in Ontario’s CMAs
- In 2011, nearly all (98.3%) of Ontario’s visible minorities
lived in Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs). They
comprised 31.8% of the province’s total CMA population.
- The Toronto CMA was home to 2,596,420 visible
minorities which accounted for 47.0% of its population.
This represented 79.2% or nearly 4 in 5 of Ontario’s total
visible minorities (3.3 million).
- Ottawa-Gatineau (Ontario part) had the second highest
proportion (22.8%) of visible minorities among all the 15
CMAs of the province.
- Windsor ranked third in the proportion of visible minorities
(17.2%), followed by Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo
(16.2%) and Hamilton (14.3%).
South Asians, Chinese and Blacks: Toronto CMA’s Largest Visible Minorities
- South Asians, Chinese and Blacks were the three largest
visible minorities in Toronto. The 2011 NHS counted
833,085 South Asians, 531,635 Chinese and 397,175
- South Asians in Toronto represented 32.1% of all visible
minorities in the CMA and 15.1% of the total population of
Ontario. They accounted for 86.2% of all South Asians in
- The Chinese made up 20.5% of Toronto’s visible
minorities and 9.6% of the total population, while Blacks
made up 15.3% of the CMA’s visible minorities and 7.2%
of the total population.
Markham and Brampton Have the Highest Proportion of Visible Minorities Among CSDs (Municipalities)
- Town of Markham had the highest proportion of visible
minorities in Canada. Visible minorities accounted for
nearly three quarters (72.3%) of its population, up from
65.4% in 2006. Over half (52.9%) of Markham’s visible
minorities were Chinese and over one quarter (26.4%)
were South Asian.
- In Brampton, visible minorities represented 66.4% of the
population, the second highest among Ontario’s Census
Subdivisions (CSDs). South Asians comprised more than
half (57.8%) of the visible minorities.
- Over half (53.7%) of Mississauga’s population were
identified as visible minorities, of which 40.5% were
1 Comparability between the 2006 Census and the 2011 NHS estimates:
When comparing estimates over time, two key differences should be
considered: 1. The NHS is a voluntary survey and may be subject to
potentially higher non-response error than the 2006 Census. 2. The two
sources represent different populations ̶ the 2006 Census includes
residents in collective dwellings and persons living abroad, while the NHS
excludes these groups.
Contact: Edisa Kozo (416) 326-7062
Office of Economic Policy
Labour and Demographic Analysis Branch