According to new census data, one in five Canadians speaks more than one language at home. It’s a testament to the rapid growth of our immigration population, but as Mike Le Couteur reports, it’s also creating some political tension.
Canadians still mostly speak English and French, but nearly one in four reported having another mother tongue, according to the census.
With immigration making up most of Canada’s population growth, it’s hardly surprising that newcomers arrive speaking a variety of languages. The top mother tongue in Canada, other than English or French, is Mandarin, with 641,000 speakers. Another Chinese language, Cantonese, takes second place, and Punjabi is third.
However, Canada’s fastest-growing language is Tagalog, a language of the Philippines. The number of people reporting speaking Tagalog at home grew by 35 per cent since the last census. This corresponds directly to immigration patterns – the top source country for permanent residents is currently the Philippines and has been for years. Over 50,000 Filipinos became permanent residents in 2015.
“We really saw a strong increase in Tagalog from 2006 to 2011,” said Jean-Pierre Corbeil, assistant director of the centre for ethnocultural language and immigration statistics at Statistics Canada.
“In 2011, we had less than 400,000 people reporting Tagalog as their home language. In terms of increase, we now have 525,000. Tagalog is now among the six most-reported languages.”