Almost 1 in 5 Londoners are now foreign-born

One in five people in the London region are now foreign-born as new census data shows increasing diversity in the city and its surrounding area.

New census data shows London is becoming increasingly diverse

The latest census figures show an increase in the number of visible minorities in London and the surrounding region. (CBC)

One in five people in the London region are now foreign-born as new census data shows increasing diversity in the city and its surrounding area. 

Nearly 20 per cent of respondents to the 2016 census reported being born outside Canada, with the largest numbers coming from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. 

London is also becoming increasingly diverse, with 16 per cent of respondents to last year's census self-identifying as a visible minority, with South Asian, Chinese, Black and Arab making up almost half of the responses. 

The 5 largest minority groups in London, Ont.
Group Total First generation Second generation Third generation or more
Total population 486,500 105,405 100,385 280,710
Visible minority population 78,325 53,330 20,690 4,305
Arab 13,375 10,025 3,405 310
South Asian 12,090 8,785 2,865 440
Black  11,945 5,550 4,360 2,035
Chinese 10,750 8,100 2,195 455
Latin American 9,395 7,660 1,670 65

The new numbers were part of a large chunk of census data released by the federal government Wednesday, which shows an increasingly varied makeup of the overall Canadian population, where one in five citizens on average was born outside the country and an Indigenous population that is proliferating in terms of its population and languages. 

The data highlights a story of immigrants who choose to settle in other parts of the country, who are no longer hamstrung into choosing one of Canada's three largest cities, according to Western University sociology professor and demographer Michael Hann.

'There's a lot to like about London'

Michael Haan is a demographer and a professor of sociology at Western University. (CBC)

"It's no longer about Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto," he said. "Now that it's continuing to spread, what we're seeing is that places like London are getting a fair slice of the immigrant population."

Hann said that immigrants are increasingly choosing cities such as London for its quality of life, where there are ample job opportunities, housing costs are relatively affordable and there is a close proximity to Toronto, Canada's largest city. 

"There's a lot to like about London," he said. "People are increasingly realizing that." 

Hann said one of the largest drivers for foreign-born people settling down in the city is Western University, which recruits a large number of international students each year. 

"We have increased the amount of international students on our campuses tremendously. If you really want to see a microcosm of what the city is going to look like in 10 to 20 years from now, come to Western's campus. You'll see the diversity of our population."

The London region also boasts the sixth largest Aboriginal population in the province, with 12,070 people who self-identify as Indigenous, making up 2.5 per cent of the total population. 


Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: