The Filipino language, Tagalog, is now the fastest-growing immigrant language in Canada. The information was revealed after the results of Canada’s 2011 census, which showed that over the 5 years between 2006 and 2011 the Tagalog-speaking population had increased by 64%. That puts the total number of Tagalog speakers in Canada at just under 300,000.
Of the major cities attracting Tagalog speakers, Vancouver has the most significant number of them at 47,600. Vancouver is rapidly becoming a highly multi-cultural melting pot, with 31 percent of the population reporting that their most common at-home language is an immigrant tongue. Tagalog still has a long way to go before it becomes the most widely-spoken immigrant tongue in Canada. Although the Tagalog-speaking population is growing quickly, they are still outnumbered by speakers of Punjabi, Chinese, Cantonese and Spanish.
So what makes Canada so attractive to Tagalog-speakers – and what skillsets are they bringing into Canada which are in such high demand? Economic growth in Canada is creating huge numbers of job opportunities – chances that don’t exist for Tagalog speakers back home in the Philippines. Amongst the largest categories of work available is in-home caregiving for elderly people and sufferers of disabilities. This is largely due to an immigration policy change made by Canada in 1992, which allowed these kinds of relatively low-skilled migrants to enter Canada. Previous to that change, immigration from the Philippines largely consisted of skilled professionals such as doctors.
It also helps that in the Philippines, English is the official second language. This makes the process of immigration much smoother and simpler for Filipinos than for many other Asians. Almost 10% of the Filipinos living outside the Philippines are in Canada.
Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, has publicly acknowledged and expressed his pleasure about the immigration trend. He has praised the immigrants for their work ethic and low crime rates. In fact, September saw the inauguration of Canada’s first Filipino-Canadian senator, Tobias Enverga Jr. Prime Minister Harper has expressed a desire for continued cooperation between the Philippines and Canada into the future.