Laval’s immigrant population surges

Census shows that French remains, overwhelmingly, the language of work

By Robert Frank

Laval’s strong economic growth has attracted a prospering immigrant population, according to figures released by Statistics Canada last week.

The new, detailed census data shows that 96,645 Laval residents—24.6% of the city’s 392,725 population in 2011—are immigrants. Almost 30% of them arrived in Canada since 2001. Another fifth of Laval’s population (19.9%) is comprised of second-generation Canadians.

Haitians made up almost half (48.5%) of immigrants from the Western Hermisphere, and Moroccans and Algerians together made up almost two-thirds of Africa’s immigrants who have opted to reside in Laval. Lebanese comprised more than a third (34.9%) of all arrivals from Asia.

The cosmopolitan nature of Quebec’s third-largest city is increasingly apparent to the eye, with visible minorities comprising more than one in five (20.7%) residents. StatsCan said that Blacks (29.8%) and Arabs (28.7%) together comprised much more than half of the total visible minority population.

The federal statistics agency also reported that 160,630 Laval residents (40.9%) declared their ethnic origin simply as “Canadian”, while 8,620 (2.2%) asserted that their ethnicity was “Québécois”.

The census revealed that Laval’s population adheres overwhelmingly (80.5%) to various Christian faiths, almost two-thirds of them (65.2%) Catholic, followed by Orthodox practitioners (8.1%). The next-largest faith group comprised Muslims (6.6%), though a larger minority (9.8%) stated that they had no religious affiliation.

French at work, Babel at home

StatsCan also reported that 39.4 per cent of Laval’s population speaks a non-official language at home, with the five top comprising 28.7 per cent of Laval’s population in 2011: Arabic (8.7%), Italian (6.4%), Spanish (5.6%), Greek (4.4%) and Créole (3.6%).

The census also showed, though, that French remains, overwhelmingly, the language of work.

Almost three-quarters (73.9%) of Laval residents reported that they work in French, with another tenth (10.5%) indicating that they work in both French and English. About one in seven Lavallois (14.3%) stated that they work in English.

Skilled workforce

The island city’s population is also well-educated, with more than half (56.1%) of the total population over 15 years old holding a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree.

More than a third (35.2%) of the total workforce, StatsCan figures revealed, are concentrated in three industrial sectors: retail trade (13.5%), manufacturing (10.8%) and health care and social assistance (10.9%).

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