T.O. to become even more multicultural: StatsCan
By JENNY YUEN, Toronto Sun
According to a new Statistics Canada report, Projections of the Diversity of the Canadian Population, released Tuesday, South Asians will be the largest visible minority group – representing 24% of Toronto’s population — by 2031.
“The number of languages within India are more than 200,” said Neethan Shan, executive director of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), which has been operating in Scarborough for the past two decades.
“The diversity among the communities are so huge that it must be taken into consideration when we’re looking at services — especially in Tamil, Sikh and Punjabi communities, which are underfunded.”
The Toronto South Asian community could see its GTA population potentially tripling from 718,000 to 2.1 million. Two contributing factors, the report cited, would be a high volume of South Asian immigrants already living here and a fertility rate that is higher than many other visible minority groups.
“Toronto is one of the largest cities in Canada and is multicultural,” said Kazi Hoque, executive director of South Asian Family Support Services, which will see a 5% cut in services later this year.
“The immigrant communities are spreading in the suburbs because cost of living and rent is low. If you look at the poverty levels in the South Asian community, it is higher than other communities because they’re under the impression there are a lot of job opportunities, but there is stiff competition.”
The population growth in the future will also help local businesses, said Kanweljit Khorana, past president of the Gerrard India Bazaar Business Improvement Area.
“We’re extending our BIA four blocks, and tomorrow, we’re meeting with the city on that,” Khorana said. “I came to Canada in 1975 from Japan, but I’m Indian. There have been tremendous changes — there was a lot of discrimination.”
The South Asian population in Toronto has been steadily climbing for the last decade and while newcomers face difficult challenges with employment and language barriers, there needs to be more legal and health support for the expanding population, Shan said.
“Another challenge is to find employment they’re qualified for,” he said.
The different regions of the GTA tend to have different communities of South Asian descent — and instead of relying solely on government help, they’ve formed their own infrastructure to help with employment and deal with issues they’re seeing on the community.
“Many of the religious establishments are located in the GTA,” Shan said. “Brampton has the highest Punjabi and Sikh population, Scarborough and Markham have a high Tamil population, so they’re all different communities.”
The study also cited the visible minority population of the Greater Toronto Area could more than double from 2.3 million in 2006 to 5.6 million by 2031.
It could account for nearly 63% of Toronto’s total population, up from 43% in 2006 and as a whole, would also represent 43% of Canada’s entire population of visible minority people.
The Chinese, Arabs and West Asians are listed in the report as other large visible minority groups in Toronto.