How Canada became home for so many Filipinos


How Canada became Filipino in a very short time

Dumadami na ang mga Pinoy sa Canada. Canada’s Filipino population has grown at an astonishing rate, thanks to the country’s dynamic immigration policies.

Filipino Canadians are Canadian citizens or permanent residents who trace their roots to the Philippines.

Filipinos in Canada are currently the third largest group of Filipinos living overseas.

Filipinos are also one of the fastest growing groups in Canada.

Until the late 20th century, Canada only had a very small Filipino population. Today, there are more than 851,410 Filipinos living in Canada.

Most Filipinos live in the big cities, but Filipinos can be found in every province and territory in Canada.

The number of Filipinos are growing every year, a direct result of Canada’s immigration programs which allows qualified individuals to come to Canada.

Filipinos are the third largest group of Asians in Canada, behind only the Chinese and Indians.

In five short years, the number of Filipinos grew 27%, from 662,605 to 851,410.

To put things in perspective, the rest of Canada’s population only grew by 5% for the same time frame.

Filipinos first started coming to Canada in the 1930s.

In 1950, a small group of Filipinos arrived in Manitoba, having crossed the border from the United States to renew their visas. While most of them went back to the US, a few stayed in Canada.

Filipinos’ arrival in the province of Manitoba was just the start. From 1946 to 1964, there were still only 770 Filipinos in Canada.

In the 1960s, Canada began actively recruiting healthcare professionals, technicians and office workers from the Philippines.

It was at this time that Canada first saw the entry of low-skilled workers from the Philippines, as Filipino workers arrived in Winnipeg to work in the garment industry.

The arrival of Filipinos in Winnipeg continued well into the 1970s, with Filipino workers being employed in clerical and sales positions. Filipino workers were also filling positions in the manufacturing industries.

By the late 1970s, Filipinos started coming in greater numbers, taking advantage of the Government of Canada’s family reunification programs.

In the 1980s, Canada saw another wave of Filipino workers, this time coming as Live-In Caregivers. Caregivers were low-skilled, minimum wage positions with a critical difference: qualified Filipino workers could apply for permanent residency after completing the program and reunite their families.

The 1990s saw greater numbers of Filipino families coming to Canada as economic immigrants, not having been recruited or coming as workers.

For the next 20 years, more than ten thousand Filipinos arrived in Canada annually, overtaking China as the leading source of new immigrants.

The Filipino community in Canada continued to grow exponentially as greater numbers of economic immigrants and Live-In Caregivers sponsored their family members, continuing well into the 21st century.

Filipinos in Canada

Filipinos come from all over the world to visit, study, work and immigrate to Canada.

Those who choose to immigrate usually settle in the larger urban areas where there are more employment opportunities, including Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Toronto.

Filipinos in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is home to the largest Filipino community in Canada.

The Filipino community in the GTA grew 12% from 2011 – 2015.

282,385 Filipinos live in the City of Toronto as well as the Regional Municipalities of Durham, Halton, Peel and York. Filipinos are the 4th largest visible minority group, behind the Indian, Chinese and Black communities.

Pilipino (or Tagalog) is the fastest growing language in Canada. Other Filipino dialects, including Ilocano and Cebuano, are also growing in usage all across Canada.

Businesses catering to the growing Filipino communities are flourishing, an indication of the expanding population in urban centres. American grocery store chain Seafood City opened their first Canadian location in Mississauga, Ontario in 2017, while Filipino fastfood giant Jollibee opened their third branch in Scarborough in 2018.

While Filipinos are evenly spread out in the GTA, there are some notable areas which have high concentration of Filipinos.

The neighbourhoods of Scarborough and North York continue to be popular destinations for newly arrived immigrants from the Philippines.

Mississauga and Brampton in Peel, Markham and Vaughan in York, Ajax and Pickering in Durham as well as Milton in Halton all have large Filipino Canadian communities.

Filipinos in Vancouver

Over 94,000 Filipinos live in the Greater Vancouver Area.  Filipinos in Vancouver are the third largest visible minority group (after the Chinese and South Asians).

Filipinos in Vancouver work in the healthcare and financial industries, as well as service, manufacturing and real estate.

While there are several different Filipino companies already operating in Canada, Vancouver holds the distinction of having Canada’s only Goldilocks Bakeshop.

Filipinos in Winnipeg

There are over 56,400 Filipinos in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Although not having the largest Filipino community in Canada, Filipinos in Winnipeg are the largest by percentage (8.7% of Winnipeggers are Filipino).

Filipinos in Winnipeg are the largest visible minority group, ahead of the Chinese and South Asians. Before the 1980s, Winnipeg was home to the largest Filipino community in Canada (until it was overtaken by Toronto).

Winnipeg is home to the first (and second) locations of Jollibee in Canada.

Filipinos in Calgary

Over 25,000 Filipinos call Calgary, Alberta home. A large number of Filipinos came to Calgary under the Government of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Filipinos in Montreal

There are also over 25,000 Filipinos in Montreal, Quebec.

Filipinos in Edmonton

There are more than 21,150 Filipinos in Edmonton, Alberta.

Filipinos in Ottawa and Gatineau

There are more than 10,000 Filipinos living in the National Capital Region, including in Canada’s capital, Ottawa.

Filipinos in Southwestern Ontario 

There are more than 10,000 Filipinos in Southwestern Ontario, living in the cities of Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener, London and Windsor.

Filipinos in Hamilton

There are more than 5,000 Filipinos living in the city of Hamilton. The first Filipino school in Canada was founded in Hamilton in the 1970s, and the first Filipino community centre was established here in the 1980s.

Filipinos in Niagara

There are over 3,000 Filipinos in the Niagara Region, living in the cities of St. Catharines and Niagara Falls. Niagara-on-the-Lake is the only Canadian town to have ever elected a Filipino to serve as their mayor.

Filipinos in Northern Canada

There are over 975 Filipinos in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon. Filipinos are the largest visible minority group (ahead of the Chinese).

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