Tagalog speakers on the rise in Manitoba, across Prairies: census

The number of people in Manitoba who speak Tagalog in their homes has increased in the latest census numbers.

Statistics Canada released 2016 numbers for languages, families, households and marital status

More Manitobans speak Tagalog at home, Statistics Canada data says. (Michael Fazio/CBC)

The number of people in Manitoba who speak Tagalog in their homes has increased in the latest census numbers.

Statistics Canada's latest release of data from the 2016 census contains information about Canadian families, households and marital status.

The data provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date picture available of recent changes in Canadian households, including information about the increasing diversity of families, such as prevalence of same-sex couples and young adults living with parents.

Tagalog speakers on the rise

In Manitoba, the number of people speaking Tagalog at home rose 42.3 per cent. That's not as significant an increase as in the other Prairie provinces. In Saskatchewan, that number rose 123.1 per cent, while in Alberta, it rose 68.3 per cent.

In 2011, there were 41,000 people who listed Tagalog as their mother tongue in Manitoba. Now, there are 57,000, an increase of more than 15,000. 

Tagalog speakers also increased as a percentage of the population of Manitoba, from four per cent in 2011 to 4.6 per cent in 2016.

Rene Houle, a senior analyst at Statistics Canada, said the country as a whole is seeing a rise in immigration from the Philippines, driving the increase in Tagalog speakers. Nationally, the number of Tagalog speakers rose by 33 per cent.

"Between 2010 and 2014, according to the immigration department of Canada, the largest contributor of immigration is now the Philippines," said Houle. 

Tagalog speakers on the rise in Manitoba, across Prairies: census

4 years ago
Duration 2:23
The number of people in Manitoba who speak Tagalog in their homes has increased in the latest census numbers. 2:23

The national program that allows provinces to select their economic immigrants has contributed to the increase, Houle said.

"What we know from other studies and from the work done by the Immigration Department is that the three Prairie provinces, especially Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but also Alberta, Yukon and some of the Atlantic provinces, are very active with this program and try to attract people."

'It's our native language'

Immigration lawyer Reis Pagtakhan said the strength of the Tagalog language is a good thing for the Filipino community and for Manitoba as a whole.

"It gives individuals the ability to maintain their culture, maintain their language, maintain their connection to home, but at the same time, it allows this community to integrate themselves into Manitoba," he said.

It gives individuals the ability to …  maintain their connection to home, but at the same time, it allows this community to integrate themselves into Manitoba.- Reis Pagtakhan

Most Filipino immigrants to Manitoba are coming for economic reasons, Pagtakhan said.

"So it's driving businesses, it's driving our economy, it's bringing people together from abroad."

Many of the Filipino immigrants also have a strong grasp of English. 

"So it's not as if they're speaking Tagalog because that's the only language they can speak and they're in some sort of ghetto. That's just what they choose, but when they're in the workplace, when they're in the workforce, when they're in business, when they're in government, they can speak English just as well as anyone else."

Eriesol Francisco agreed. He moved from Los Angeles to Winnipeg with four children who understood Tagalog but didn't speak it. But within six months of living here, they had learned to speak the language.

"I think it's so important for our children to speak and understand our native language. Because English will be there. Everywhere they go, they will speak that. But Tagalog they can forget.

"When they speak [Tagalog] with us, we feel the sincerity. It's our native language."

Time for Tagalog immersion: former teacher

Former teacher Socorro Juan said she and other educators formed a group to run after-school Tagalog programming in the Winnipeg School Division in the '70s. The division then tried to run an in-school program for one year. 

"We had Chinese, we had Portuguese, we had Italian and we had Filipino, right there during the day," said Juan.

It wasn't successful because too many students were being pulled out of regular classes to take the programming, she said.

But she said a full immersion program "is something I'd like to see in the Seven Oaks School Division." The division currently only has after-school Tagalog programming, and no other division has any Tagalog programming.

"I know for a fact that Filipino [population] in Seven Oaks is growing." 

French speakers declining in Manitoba

While the number of Tagalog speakers rises, the number of French speakers has declined in Manitoba.

"French in Manitoba has decreased actually in numbers as well as percentage," Houle said.

The number of people who listed French as their mother tongue was 48,000 in 2011 and fell to 46,000 in 2016, a drop of 3.6 per cent. The percentage of the population who listed their mother tongue as French also fell, from four per cent in 2011 to 3.6 per cent in 2016.

The numbers of people who list French as their first official language and who speak French at home also fell, Houle said.

In Manitoba there are 41,000 people who declare French as their first official language, 3.1 per cent of population.

Overall, linguistic diversity has increased in Canada, with 7.6 million Canadians speaking a language other than English or French at home in 2016, more than 1 million more than in 2011.

Linguistic diversity

Linguistic diversity is on the rise in Canada, with 7.6 million Canadians reporting speaking a language other than English or French at home in 2016. That's an increase of 1 million (14.5 per cent) compared to 2011. 

The proportion of people who speak a second language at home rose from 17.5 per cent in 2011 to 19.4 per cent in 2016.

In Manitoba, the 10 most common languages spoken at home are: 

  • English — 1,035,545
  • Tagalog (Pilipino, Filipino) — 25,785
  • German — 24,795
  • French — 16,805
  • Punjabi (Panjabi) — 14,005
  • Mandarin — 8,080
  • Cree (not otherwise specified) — 7,415
  • Spanish — 5,695
  • Russian — 5,525
  • Oji-Cree — 4,995 

Manitoba matches national trends

Diversity of household composition is also on the rise, with fewer households composed of simply mom, dad and kids. More Canadians are living alone, as part of a couple without kids or as part of a multi-generational household.

"Manitoba, in general, is very close to the national average on most indicators, so it represents Canada as a whole, in a way," said Stacey Hallman, an analyst in the demography division of Statistics Canada.

The number of Canadians living alone increased to its greatest share since Confederation and was the most common type of household in the country in 2016, representing 28.2 per cent of all households in Canada. 

In Manitoba, it's 27.7, Hallman said. 

The increase in the number of people living alone can be attributed to a number of factors, including the number of people living longer, particularly women, Hallman said. More women in the workforce and personal preferences also contributed to the increase, Hallman said.

There is a slightly higher number of households living with children (52 per cent) than without in Manitoba.

Multi-generational households are the fastest-growing type of household. Although households that include more than two generations make up only 2.9 per cent, or 403,810 households, that number rose 37.5 between 2001 and 2016, faster than any other household type. 

Statistics Canada attributes the changes partly to an aging population and increasing ethnocultural diversity. This type of living arrangement is most common among Indigenous and newcomer families, Statistics Canada said.

More from CBC Manitoba

With files from The Canadian Press


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