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Newcomers Head for Big Cities


When newcomers come to Canada, they head for the big cities and not the rural parts of the country.

More than 60% of immigrants and 70% of recent immigrants live in Canada’s three largest cities – Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Recent immigrants make up close to one-fifth of population of Toronto (23%) and almost one-fifth (21%) of the population of Vancouver. A smaller proportion and a smaller number of immigrants live in second-tier cities – Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton and Ottawa. An even smaller proportion liv in third tier cities – Victoria, Saskatoon, Regina, Quebec and Halifax. Only 21% of immigrants live in the entire rest of Canada. This territory contains half (53%) of the population of the Canada.  This trend is particularly true of recent immigrants. Very few recent immigrants make their home in smaller cities and in rural and small-town Canada. This includes Huron and Perth Counties.

Why would this be so:

  • Family – immigrants naturally want to settle where they have family

  • Community , cultural activities – immigrants prefer to be in communities where they can engage in their homeland culture

  • Many immigrants come from urban centres

  • Services for immigrants - Huron County has had government-funded Resettlement Assistance Programs provided by the YMCA of Western Ontario and Perth County now has such services provided by Cambridge-Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA.


While recent immigrants have a higher unemployment rate than Canadian-born adults immediately after arriving, ultimately the find jobs and their risk of becoming employed is the same as it is for those born in Canada.

The average incomes of the Canadian-born and of immigrants are about the same, both for men and for women.

Generally, average income is higher in the cities than in the rest of Canada; but, expenses may be higher in cities. A better way to compare incomes and the cost-of-living would be to use an instrument such as the Living Wage calculation. The Living Wage in Huron Perth is in the middle of the range compared to other communities in Ontario. A Living Wage here has been calculated to be $17.44 while the rate in Toronto is $21.75.


CMHC distinguishes between three forms of core housing need – Affordability, Adequacy and Suitability.  Unsuitable housing is housing for which there are not enough bedrooms for the family configuration. It is not uncommon for immigrants to live in unsuitable housing at first. In big cities such as Toronto, while one-quarter (27%) of recent immigrants live in unsuitable housing, only 3% of Canadian-borns live in unsuitable housing there. In Canada outside the major urban areas, designated “the rest of Canada”,  a smaller proportion of recent immigrant families live in unsuitable housing (!#%) compared to only 3% for Canadian-born households. While housing may be hard to find for newcomers, this might be less of a problem in the “rest of Canada”.

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