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.
GroupTotalFirst generationSecond generationThird generation or more
Total population486,500105,405100,385280,710
Visible minority population78,32553,33020,6904,305
South Asian12,0908,7852,865440
Black 11,9455,5504,3602,035
Latin American9,3957,6601,67065

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


Colin Butler covers the environment, real estate, justice as well as urban and rural affairs for CBC News in London, Ont. He is a veteran journalist with 20 years' experience in print, radio and television in seven Canadian cities. You can email him at