Punjabi fourth-most widely spoken language in Canadian homes

Updated on Aug 18, 2022 03:41 PM IST

Overall, the number of Canadians who speak predominantly a non-official language at home rose 16% since 2016, from 4.0 million to 4.6 million

A person walks in front of new homes under construction in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of Punjabi speakers increased by 49% to 520,000. (REUTERS)
A person walks in front of new homes under construction in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of Punjabi speakers increased by 49% to 520,000. (REUTERS)

Punjabi is the fourth-most widely spoken language spoken at home in Canada while the number of those using other Indian tongues has risen steeply, according to new data released on Wednesday.

Canada’s two official languages, English and French, remain the two spoken most predominantly at home, followed by Mandarin and Punjabi, according to details issued on Wednesday by Statistics Canada (StatCan), the country’s data agency. This is based on the 2021 census.

However, the growth of Punjabi speakers has been sharper than that for Mandarin. Between 2016 and 2021, the number of Punjabi speakers increased by 49% to 520,000, while those for Mandarin rose by a more moderate 15% to 531,000.

Other Indian languages are also flourishing in Canada. The number of those speaking Hindi escalated by 66% to 92,000, while those using Gujarati were at the same figure but increased by a comparatively lower 43%. Also on the list is Malayalam, which saw its usage rising by 129% to 35,000 speakers.

“The rapid growth in the number of speakers of certain languages is mostly due to immigration,” a release from StatCan said. It added that 20%of permanent residents who arrived in Canada from May 2016 to December 2020 were born in India.

Overall, the number of Canadians who speak predominantly a non-official language at home rose 16% since 2016, from 4.0 million to 4.6 million.

“Despite the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on arrivals to the country, immigration has continued to enrich Canada’s linguistic diversity,” the release said.

English is the main language spoken in Canada, with its users going up to 75.5% in 2021 from 74.8% five years earlier. The other official language French though is losing users, down from 22.2% to 21.4%. The number of those adept at both official languages remained static at 18%.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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