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With a larger foreign born population that Vancouver, Los Angeles and New York, Toronto is a city of unmatched diversity and tolerance ( See Figure 1. Foreign Born Population). Diversity of race, religion and lifestyle help define and set Toronto apart from other global cities. It is home to virtually all of the world's cultural groups and is a city where more than 100 languages and dialects are spoken. With over 200 distinct ethnic origins represented, the Toronto region is a true mosaic of cultures, languages, abilities, hopes and dreams. With 48.6% of the Toronto region’s current population foreign born, and with over 100,000 immigrants settling in the region every year, Toronto promises even greater diversity in years to come.

After all, it is this diversity - this unmatched pool of talent, skills and experience - that is Toronto's greatest advantage. Businesses located in the GTA have easy access to a multilingual, well-educated workforce, with connections, both personal and professional, all over the world.

In terms of human capital, Toronto ranks in the top 10 on the Global Cities Index, 2008. Part of the City's success lies in the wide range of people and experiences from which it benefits. After all, diversity is good for business. As renowned urban theorist Richard Florida has noted, "Canada's experiment in opening up to immigration is paying significant economic development dividends."1 A New York Times article describes Toronto "... so many cities lament the global economic crisis and the dulling effects of globalization, boutiques and restaurants seem to open every week in Toronto, and immigrant neighborhoods still feel linguistically, gastronomically, gloriously, distinct."

Not surprisingly, Toronto doesn't just welcome diversity, it encourages it.

Openness and Inclusion of all People

Toronto is known as a tolerant and inclusive city. Government and non-government initiatives focus on fostering and leveraging the unparalleled diversity and talent the city has to offer. Recently, Aga Khan, the imam of the world's 14 million Shia Ismaili Muslims praised Canada for allowing citizens to keep their identity as they become Canadian during a speech in Toronto. In 2010 Imam Aga Khan announced he would build a new Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum and Gardens in Toronto, set to open in 2013 (Aga Khan hails Canada for getting pluralism right).With such a reputation, it should be no surprise that Toronto is the destination of choice for many immigrants to Canada.

Between 2000 and 2008, the Toronto Region attracted an annual average of 103,400 immigrants. At the same time, an average of over 32,000 international students per year choose to study in Toronto.2

Toronto is the city of choice for so many new Canadians because it allows them to quickly integrate into the business community. As a city of immigrants, Toronto understands the multitude of ways it is enriched by diversity and welcomes newcomers. Almost three-quarters of Torontonians have direct ties to immigration. About one-half are themselves immigrants and almost one-quarter are second-generation Canadians with at least one parent born outside of Canada.3 This unmatched multicultural diversity is expressed by the more than 200 distinct ethnic groups represented in the Toronto region according to the 2011 National Household Survey.

Toronto's visible minority population has also grown significantly in recent decades. Second only to Los Angeles in its peer group, nearly 43% of Toronto's population belongs to a visible minority group4 (See Figure 2: Visible Minorities). That's nearly one-quarter of the visible minority population in Canada, and it is a figure Statistics Canada predicts will rise to over 60% by 2031.

The top five visible minority communities in Toronto based on 2011 National Household Survey:

  • South Asian - 298,370 (12%)
  • Chinese - 283,075 (11.4%)
  • Black - 208,555 (8.4%)
  • Filipino - 102,555 (4.1%)
  • Latin American - 64,860 (2.6%)
Percentage Foreign Born Population
Visible Minorities (% Pop), 2006

Additional Information

City of Toronto: Immigration & Settlement Portal

This site helps new and future immigrants learn more about services available in the City of Toronto. More information.

The Toronto Immigrant Employment Data Initiative (TIEDI)

The Toronto Immigrant Employment Data Initiative (TIEDI) seeks to assist community organizations whose mandate includes the better integration of immigrants into Toronto's labour force. More information.

Maytree Foundation

Maytree Foundation

Maytree invests in leaders to build a Canada that can benefit from the skills, experience and energy of all its people. More information.



DiverseCity is a joint project of Maytree and the Toronto City Summit Alliance. Maytree is a private charitable foundation that promotes equity and prosperity through leadership building. More information.

1 Florida, Mellander, & Stolarick, 2010
2 From
3 Immigrants in Canada's Census Metropolitan Areas - Grant Schellenberg, Statistics Canada
4 Martin Prosperity Institute, Toronto Compete, 2009

The percentage of immigrants in the Toronto region benchmarked against large US metropolitan areas.
The percentage of visible minorities in the Toronto region benchmarked against large US metropolitan areas.
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