Calgary's visible minority population has grown to about 232,000 people. ((Wayne Bernier/CBC))

Calgary's South Asian community grew by 20,000 in five years, new statistics show, adding to visible minorities that make up a quarter of the city's population.

The latest information from Statistics Canada's 2006 census released Wednesday revealed that an increasing number of people moved to Calgary from countries such as India, Pakistan and Bhutan between 2001 and 2006. The South Asian community is now about 57,000-strong.

The Chinese community is still the largest visible ethnic group in the city with more than 66,000 people.

In total, visible minorities grew from about 164,000 in 2001 to 232,000 in 2006. Across Canada, five million people, or about 16 per cent, identified themselves as visible minorities.

Statistics Canada includes the question about visible minorities in its census because it's required for programs under the Employment Equity Act, which defines a visible minority as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour."

The 2006 census found that fewer visible minorities were employed (69 per cent) compared with non-visible minorities (73 per cent).

Jordan Hamilton, an analyst with Vibrant Communities Calgary, an anti-poverty group, said most newcomers are struggling even though most are working.

"Close to one-third of all visible minority persons are actually living in poverty, which suggests that they're trying, but for whatever reason they're not succeeding, or being as integrated as effectively as the remainder of the population in Calgary," he said.

Hamilton said instituting a living wage and recognizing foreign credentials would help change that.