Almost 25% of Waterloo Region's population is foreign-born

Waterloo Region is slightly lower than the Ontario average when it comes to the number of immigrants living here.

U.K. most common country of birth

Waterloo Region is slightly lower than the Ontario average when it comes to the proportion of immigrants living here.

According to the National Household Survey released on Wednesday, 23.1 per cent (or 108,720 people) of the population of the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge census metropolitan area is foreign-born, compared to 28.5 per cent overall for Ontario.

But the historical comparisons are few and far between in the National Household Survey, which Statistics Canada designed, at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's behest, to replace the cancelled long-form survey, which was eliminated.

The U.K. tops the list of the most common countries of birth for foreign-born immigrants in Waterloo region at 10.7, with Portugal following at 7.2 per cent and India at 6.1 per cent.

Portuguese, Spanish and Serbian are the three most frequently reported languages other than English and French spoken at home in immigrant households.

A closer look: The city of Waterloo 

According to the 2011 National Household Survey, 24.6 per cent of Waterloo Region’s population immigrated here, while 73.5 per cent are Canadian born. Between 2006 and 2011, the number of immigrants in Waterloo who came to Canada was 4,140 –or just over a sixth of the city’s total immigrant population of 23, 910. The most common country of birth for immigrants to Waterloo is China. People born there accounted for 13.9 per cent of the immigrant population in the city. Meanwhile, the next most common country of birth for immigrants is the United Kingdom, accounting for 9.7 per cent of all newcomers.

Although a majority of immigrants, 59.2 per cent, in Waterloo speak English and/or French at home, the next language most frequently spoken at home was Chinese, not otherwise specified, a group that counts together Chinese languages excluding Mandarin. Close behind that was Mandarin at 5.5 per cent and then Arabic at 3.5 per cent.

About 20.4 % per cent of Waterloo’s population is estimated by the NHS to belong to a visible minority, and the largest visible minority groups in the region are Chinese and South Asian.

German is still the most commonly reported ethnic origin in Waterloo, followed by English and then Canadian.

A closer look: The city of Kitchener

In Kitchener, 26.1 per cent of the population is foreign-born, and again the United Kingdom tops the list as the most common country of birth at 7.3 per cent of all immigrants. Second-most common is Romania with 6. 3 per cent.

At home, 54.3 per cent of Kitchener's immigrants speak English and/or French. The next most commonly spoken languages at home are Serbian and Spanish, both at 5.5 per cent, and Romanian at 4.4 per cent.

Visible minorities are estimated to make up 18.4 per cent of Kitchener's population, with the largest groups being South Asian and Black.

In a reversal from Waterloo's reported ethnicities, Canadian was the most frequently reported ethnic origin in Kitchener, followed by German and English.

A closer look: The city of Cambridge

Cambridge's immigrant population makes up 20.2 per cent of the city's total population. Portugal is the most common country of birth for immigrants to Cambridge at 20.2 per cent, followed by the United Kingdom at 18.1 per cent.

A higher proportion of immigrants speak English and/or French at home in Cambridge, when compared to both Kitchener and Waterloo — a total of 65.1 per cent. Portuguese was next most frequently spoken at home at 12.3 per cent, then Punjabi at 3.4 and Gujarati at 3.1 per cent.

An estimated 12.6 per cent of Cambridge's population is a member of a visible minority group, and the largest two groups are South Asian and black.

"Canadian" was the most commonly reporting ethnic origin in Cambridge, followed by English and Scottish.

With files from The Canadian Press