Indian immigrants take top spot among Hamilton’s recent immigrants, census data shows

The Hamilton Spectator

Ritika Dubey The Hamilton Spectator Fri., Nov. 11, 2022

Indian immigrants represent the largest portion of Hamilton’s recently arrived immigrant population, according to the latest census report.

Indians make up 18 per cent of the total recent immigrants in Hamilton, according to the 2021 census report — more than double the number since the last census in 2016 at 7.7 per cent.

Second in line was immigrants from the Philippines — who a decade ago topped the list of recent immigrants — with 8.4 per cent.

People who moved to Canada between 2016 and May 2021 are considered recent immigrants in the latest census data.

Sarah Wayland, senior project manager at the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council (HIPC), said the sharp rise in Hamilton’s Indian immigrants is reflective of federal trends.

Federally, one in every five recent immigrants — almost 19 per cent — was born in India, making it the leading country of birth for recent immigrants, a Statistics Canada report said.

About 4,700 Indian immigrants moved to Hamilton between 2016 and 2021, compared to only 895 in the 2011 census.

Wayland said the shift “speaks to the post-secondary institutions in Hamilton that are attracting international students, and also to the changing ways (in which) people become permanent residents in Canada.”

During the pandemic, the federal government focused on granting permanent residence to international students and foreign workers already in Canada who weren’t affected by travel restrictions and border closures.

India is the top source country for international students at Mohawk College, and second at McMaster University, right after China, the city said in an emailed response.

The South Asian country has also been one of the “targets of interest for economic development in Hamilton,” said Wayland.

Hamilton’s outgoing mayor Fred Eisenberger led an 18-person delegation to India in 2019 to specifically seek out business opportunities for Hamilton. The delegation included McMaster University and Mohawk College, among other local organizations.

During his trip to India, Eisenberger hosted an event with students preparing to attend college in Hamilton.

Steeltown has been a longtime home to a vast and diverse immigrant community, contributing to labour and population growth, Wayland said.

Immigrants in Hamilton “fill gaps at all levels of the local labour market, from entry-level positions to highly skilled professions and trades,” while bringing new ideas, cultures and cuisines to the city, she said.

In Hamilton, the total immigrant population since the last census increased by only one per cent — sitting at about 26 per cent.

While the total number of immigrants didn’t see a drastic change overall, demographics in Hamilton have shifted over the past five decades.

In 2021, three in every five recent immigrants in Hamilton were Asian — born in the Middle East, North or South Asian countries, while the number of European immigrants declined — reflecting the changing source countries for the economic market in Canada.

Only 10 per cent of recent immigrants coming to Canada were from Europe, compared to 61 per cent in 1971, according to the 2021 census. Five decades ago, more than 20 per cent of newly arrived immigrants were from the United Kingdom.

Wayland said Hamilton has seen an uptick in both directly landed and secondary immigrants — who moved here after first immigrating to another Canadian city — since 2015.