The portion of Burnaby residents who are immigrants continues to grow, according to census data. (Wirestock Creators/ Shutterstock)

Burnaby remains a destination for immigrants to Canada, census data show

Burnaby has always been a landing space for immigrants, and 2021 census data show that is only becoming more true.

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October 27, 2022 | 5:00 am

Immigrants and non-permanent residents make up more than four-fifths of Burnaby’s population growth since 2016, according to recently released census data.

The number of immigrants with citizenship and permanent residency in Burnaby rose dramatically in proportion to the city’s overall population growth, from just over 115,000 in 2016 to nearly 124,000 in 2021.

That means immigrants make up just shy of 50.4% of the city’s population, while the nearly 17,000 non-permanent residents make up another 6.8%—a combined 57.2% of Burnaby’s population.

By contrast, the two combined to make up about 55.6% of the city’s population in 2016.

The boost in Burnaby’s immigrant population is thanks to nearly 19,000 immigrants who arrived in the country between 2016 and 2021, according to the census data. By comparison, fewer than 14,000 immigrants living in Burnaby arrived in the country in the five years prior to that.

China top birth country for local immigrants

Of Burnaby’s immigrant population, a handful were born in the Americas, Europe, Oceania, and Africa, with a large majority—more than 93,000—coming from Asia.

Close to 31,000 immigrants were born in China—that’s about a quarter of all immigrants living in Burnaby, by far the largest contributor of immigrants to the city. That is followed by just over 11,000 coming from each Philippines and Hong Kong, a bit under 8,000 coming from Taiwan, about 7,500 coming from India, and just over 6,000 coming from South Korea.

Among the recent immigrant population—those who obtained their permanent residency or landed immigrant status between Jan. 1, 2016 and May 11, 2021—China remains a significant contributor, with 4,800 of about 19,000 (or 25%) coming from China.

People born in India, however, are making up a larger portion of the immigrant population in Burnaby, with about 2,500 born in that country. That’s roughly a third of the total population of Indian immigrants in Burnaby.

Burnaby isn’t the only place in Metro Vancouver—or Canada—seeing significant increases in its immigrant population.

While Metro Vancouver’s population grew by nearly 181,000 people between 2016 and 2021, or about 7.5%, the region’s immigrant population grew by nearly 100,000, or 10.1%.

In all, permanent residents and immigrants with citizenship account for 1.1 million people in the region of about 2.6 million, or 41.8%. Including non-permanent residents, that figure increases to 44.8%.

Like Burnaby, Metro Vancouver’s immigrant population is heavily weighted towards those born in China (19%), India (14%), Philippines (10%), and Hong Kong (7%). Among recent immigrants living in Metro, India was most commonly reported as the country of birth, at about 20%, followed by China (19%), and the Philippines (10%).

According to a Statistics Canada analysis of the data, posted yesterday, racialized groups saw significant growth throughout the country, making up about a quarter of all people living in Canada.

And a significant portion of that are South Asian (7.1% of all people living in Canada), Chinese (4.7%), and Black (4.3%) people.

Immigrants driving shift in religion demographics

And as more immigrants come to Canada, non-Christian religions are beginning to see more representation within the population. Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs each saw their share of the overall population at least double since 2001, with Muslims growing to 4.9% of the population in 2021, compared to 2% in 2016, Hindus growing to 2.3% from 1%, and Sikhs growing to 2.1% from 0.9%.

Meanwhile, the Christian share of the population has dropped dramatically from about 67% in 2011 and 77% in 2001 down to just 53% in 2021.

Here in Burnaby, Christians make up about 35% of the population (33% in Metro), still by far the largest religious affiliation in the city.

Those who reported no religion and secular perspectives, however, made up nearly half (48%) of Burnaby’s population, a bit higher than in Metro Vancouver (45%). That’s a fair bit higher than the 35% reported Canada-wide.

Among those claiming religious affiliation, Muslims made up the second-highest portion, after Christians, at about 5.6% of the population, followed by Hindus (3.1%), and Sikhs (2.8%).

In Burnaby, those non-Christian demographics look a bit different, with Sikhs making up about 8.5% of the population, followed by Muslims (4.2%) and Hindus (2.6%).

“Immigration is one of the key drivers of non-Christian religions. Immigrants represented the majority of Buddhists (68.9%), Muslims (63.1%), Hindus (62.9%) and Sikhs (53.8%),” StatCan noted in its analysis.

“By comparison, immigrants represented nearly one-quarter (23.0%) of the Canadian population in 2021.”

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Dustin Godfrey

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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