Manitoba, 2036: Statistics Canada projects a more diverse province in the future

Population projections from Statistics Canada indicate Manitoba can likely count on an increase in immigration to the province, and will be home to a larger proportion of new Canadians in the years to come.

Population projections indicate more newcomers will make Manitoba home as immigration rates increase

Yahye Farah, 21, said his family moved to Canada from Ethiopia in 2011, and chose to settle down in Manitoba because they'd heard it had good education opportunities and was a multicultural province. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

When Yahye Farah stood and swore two oaths of citizenship to Canada — one in English and one in French — on Wednesday, he said it was a dream come true.

"In my country there was a war going on and it was not safe to live there," he said. "So it was always my dream for me and my parents."

The 21-year-old, originally from Ethiopia, was one of 93 brand-new Canadian citizens sworn in by a judge just in time for Canada's 150th birthday.

"They told me that Manitoba [has] good education and is a multicultural place," he said. "So we decided to stay in Manitoba and continue our life forever."

Over the next 20 years, the multiculturalism that appealed to Farah's family is expected to increase.

Population projections from Statistics Canada indicate Manitoba can likely count on an increase in immigration, and will be home to a larger proportion of new Canadians in the years to come.

"In the future, we project that the proportion of immigrants in Manitoba will grow very rapidly," said Jean-Dominique Morency, a demographer specializing in ethnocultural diversity for Statistics Canada.

"[It's] one of the provinces where the proportion will grow the most rapidly."

Rita Chahal, executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, says she will meet with Education and Training Minister Ian Wishart next week. (Gary Soliak/CBC)
Where only about 2.5 per cent of all new Canadians became Manitobans in the early 2000s, that proportion has increased to five or six per cent in recent years — "a huge change," Morency said.

Rita Chahal, the executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, said that's good news for the province.

"That's good to hear that, that Manitoba will continue to receive the richness of newcomers to Canada who have a lot to offer and will help our economy, our cultural and social fabric of our province," she said.

Increase in ethnocultural diversity

If Statistics Canada projections come true, that ratio will jump from just under 16 per cent in 2011 to 22 or 32 per cent in the next 20 to 25 years, with the vast majority of new Manitobans choosing to live in Winnipeg.

By 2036, each of Statistics Canada's scenarios indicate "an increase in ethnocultural diversity" in the province. The group uses a number of "diversity indicators," including mother tongue, religion and whether an individual is a visible minority.

Over the next 20 years, those indicators are projected to change:

  • In 2011, around 21 per cent of Manitobans had a mother tongue other than English or French. By 2036, projections suggest that number could increase to between 27 and 35 per cent.
  • In 2011, around five per cent of Manitobans were part of non-Christian religions. By 2036, projections suggest that number could increase to between eight and 11 per cent.
  • In 2011, around 13 per cent of Manitobans were visible minorities, which Statistics Canada defines as not white or Indigenous. By 2036, projections suggest that number could increase to between 30 and 40 per cent.

Morency cautions a projection isn't exactly the same as a prediction. Instead, Statistics Canada produces multiple projections, playing out the results of various birth rates, death rates and immigration scenarios, showing potential futures with high, medium and low growth.

When demographers build simulations of the future, Morency said, they look first to the recent past.

If Manitoba's recent past is anything to go on, Doug Norris said projections of increasing immigration aren't unreasonable. Norris is the chief demographer with Environics Analytics and spent the better part of three decades working at Statistics Canada.

"Manitoba's really interesting from a demographic point of view," Norris said. Prior to 2001, the province's growth was "sluggish," he said, coupling low immigration with relatively high numbers of Manitobans moving to other provinces — a trend continues to plague the province, he added.

Then, around 2001, immigration to the province starting picking up, stimulating the province's overall population growth.

"In the last census, Manitoba was the third fastest growing province between 2011 and 2016, following Alberta and pretty close to Saskatchewan," Norris said.

On the ground, Chahal said she's noticed overall increase in new arrivals to Manitoba, too, and like Norris, she expects it to continue.

"In this day of globalization, more people are wanting to come to Canada, not just from our sector, the refugee sector, but overall," she said. "People are moving for various reasons across the globe."

Chahal said she's happy to hear projections of increased diversity, but she doesn't often use that term. Instead, she focuses on inclusivity.

"Diversity means a whole of different things to different people," she said.

"I see diversity as very global, not just as differences. I really see it more as what pulls us together, and the practices may be different but I think the intent is always the same."


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