The linguistic makeup of Canada continues to evolve driven by international immigration.

The linguistic makeup of Canada continues to evolve, driven by international immigration.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown/CBC

Languages spoken in Canada: slow but steady change


The latest information from Canada’s official statistics agency shows continued change in Canada’s linguistic make-up.

Statistics Canada says 93.4 per cent of Canada’s population indicate they speak either English of French ( Canada’s two official languages) on a regular basis.

However, some 7.6 million Canadians now report speaking a language other than English or French at home, an increase of 14.5 per cent over 2011 for a total of just over 22 per cent of the population.

There is also a decline of English and French as a mother tongue in Canada.  In 2016, 78.9% of the Canadian population had English or French as their mother tongue, compared with 80.2% in 2011 and 82.4% in 2001.

Graph showing percent increase or decrease of various languages in Canada between 2011 and 2016
Graph showing percent increase or decrease of various languages in Canada between 2011 and 2016 © Statistics Canada

International immigration is driving linguistic change in Canada, and traditional sources of immigration are also changing.

Those reporting a “European” language being spoken in the home is declining  with  Italian, Polish, German and Greek reporting declines ranging from a 10.9 per cent decline in Italian, to a 2.3 per cent decline for Greek.

The main immigrant languages spoken in Canada include Mandarin and Cantonese some 1.23 million people, while Punjabi, Spanish (latin America), Tagalog (Philipino), and Arabic each have well over half a million speakers.

Tagalog has shown the most rapid increase at over 35 per cent between 2011 and 2016, followed by Arabic, Persian (Farsi), and Hindu.

There are close to 70 aboriginal languages in Canada, but the overall numbers of speakers is relatively small at around 225,000.  Cree is the most common aboriginal language at 84,000 people. Inuktitut is next at 39,000.

Categories: Immigration & Refugees, International, Society
Tags: , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.