The Filipino language of Tagalog is the second-most common mother tongue in Winnipeg, edging out French, the latest census figures show.

Statistics Canada says Tagalog is the first language spoken by 35,620 people in the Winnipeg census metropolitan area, accounting for 4.9 per cent of the population.

Meanwhile, French is the mother tongue of 29,675 people, or 4.1 of the population.

When the last census was conducted in 2006, 23,285 people in Winnipeg said Tagalog was their mother tongue, representing 3.4 of the population.

Top non-official languages

Statistics Canada says the top five non-official languages spoken in the Winnipeg metropolitan area are:

  1. Tagalog — 4.9 per cent.
  2. German — 2.9 per cent.
  3. One of the Chinese languages — 1.7 per cent.
  4. Ukrainian — 1.5 per cent.
  5. Punjabi — 1.4 per cent.

In the 2006 census, the top five non-official languages spoken in the city were, in order: Tagalog, German, Ukrainian, one of the Chinese languages, and Polish.

Tagalog is the fastest-growing language in Canada, as the number of people who report speaking it has gone up by 64 per cent between 2006 and 2011.

"There was an important wave of immigrants coming from [the] Philippines," said François Nault, a Statistics Canada analyst.

"That explains the growth now, in the census, of people declaring either Tagalog as [their] mother tongue or as a language most often spoken at home."

English remains the most common language in homes across the city, with 73.4 per cent of the population — or 529,405 people — saying it's their mother tongue.

Statistics Canada defines "mother tongue" as the first language learned at home in childhood and still understood at the time the census was taken in May 2011.

Ben Apuya, who has been living in Winnipeg for 22 years, says he, his wife and their two sons speak Tagalog at home.

"I always talk to them in Tagalog so that they will not forget their original language in the Philippines," Apuya said.

A total of 22.5 per cent of the population of metro Winnipeg has a mother tongue other than one of the official languages, an increase from 20.9 per cent in the 2006 census.

Across Manitoba, the most common mother tongue is English, followed by German, French and the aboriginal languages.

With files from The Canadian Press