The 2016 Canadian Census of Population on Language was released earlier this month.
• Tamil population of Canada 157,000. Tamil is the 16th most spoken immigrant language in Canada.
• Tamil population of Toronto is 122,000 (4.4% of Toronto). It is the 8th most spoken immigrant language in Toronto.
• Tamil population of Montreal is 15,000 (1.5% of Montreal). It is the 14th most spoken immigrant language in Montreal.
• Tamil population of Vancouver is 4,000 (0.3% of Vancouver). It is the 31st most spoken immigrant language in Vancouver.
• Tamil is not among the top 30 languages in any other city in Canada.
• Tamil population grew by 13,730 from 2011 to 2016
• Tamil population grew by 25,180 from 2006 to 2011.
• Overall, the rate of Tamil population increase declined by 83% in a 5 year period.
The slowing growth of the Tamil population can be attributed to the following:
• Decreased immigration from Sri Lanka
• Low immigration from South India (most skilled professionals from Tamil Nadu prefer immigrating to the US)
• Low birth rates
• Increased outmarriage rates, with the children of mixed unions less likely to identify Tamil as their mother tongue
• Loss of language retention
What does this mean for the future of the Tamil community in Canada?
As the population of other large, fast-growing communities including Chinese, Filipinos, Arabs, Persians and Punjabis continues to rise, the % of Tamils in the Canadian population has already peaked and will continue to fall.
The combination of the above factors foreshadows that the Tamil community will grow slowly and eventually decline in the coming years, gradually blending and disappearing into the broader Canadian multicultural mosaic.