A Profile of the Canadian Arab Community in the Greater Toronto Area

The 8th in a series analyzing the 2011 census data released by Statistics Canada, this report provides a profile of the Canadian Arab population residing in Toronto.

By Ghina Dajani, CAI Research Fellow

Published: April 201

The 8th in a series analyzing the 2011 census data released by Statistics Canada, this report provides a profile of the Canadian Arab population residing in Toronto.[i]


The GTA’s Canadian Arab community

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Toronto’s Canadian Arab community is the second largest population gathering of Canadian Arabs in a Canadian city, accounting for 22% of the total population of Canadian Arabs in Canada (277,050 of 750,925 Canadian Arabs).  The community constitutes slightly over 3% of the GTA’s total population.

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Among the self-identified Arab ethnicities in Toronto, the Egyptian and Lebanese communities represent the largest demographics (at 16% and 15% of the Arab population respectively), and the Algerian and Berber communities represent the smallest numbers (at 1% and 0.4% respectively).

Religion, Marital and Family Status of Toronto’s Canadian Arab community

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When it comes to religious affiliation, the make-up of the Canadian Arab community in Toronto reflects the community’s national trend – with those of the Muslim faith constituting a majority (49%) followed by Christians (41%).

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The Canadian Arab community in Toronto falls within a similar break-down of marital status as that of the national Canadian Arab community, and is also quite similar to the city’s general marital status profile.

Marital status in the Canadian Arab community in comparison with the general population in Toronto is closely similar, where married and not separated couples in the Canadian Arab community constituting 51% and in Toronto’s general population 52%. On the other hand, common-law partners account for a higher percentage of the general population of Toronto (5%) than they do within the Canadian Arab community (2%). The rate of divorce falls slightly lower within the Canadian Arab community (4%) than in the general population of Toronto (5%). The percentage of singles within the Canadian Arab community is slightly higher, coming in at 36% in comparison to the city’s rate of 31%.

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Common-law partnerships are half as likely within the Canadian Arab community in Toronto (2%) than within the city’s general population (4%). Furthermore lone parents constitute exactly the same percentage of the Canadian Arab community as they do of Toronto’s population, coming in at 5% in both groups.

A significantly higher rate of children in census families[i] is present in Toronto’s Canadian Arab community (47%) than in the city’s general population (34%), while a lower rate of persons not in census families[ii] is present in the Canadian Arab community (10%) than in the general population of Toronto (15%). This indicates that Canadian Arabs are less likely to live independently of their parents and families as singles than other Torontonians.

These trends reflect the familial values of the Canadian Arab community who are more likely to be married, less likely to enter into common-law partnerships and are less likely to live independently as singles.

Citizenship and generation status within the Canadian Arab community

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While the majority of the Canadian Arab community in Toronto are immigrants (62%), only 19% percent of the community had not yet acquired citizenship in 2011.

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Given that 4 in 5 Canadian Arab immigrants have settled in either Quebec or Ontario since 1985, it is not surprising that the vast majority of Canadian Arabs residing in Toronto are first generation immigrants, accounting for 65% of the community.

Education and Employment in Toronto’s Canadian Arab community

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Canadian Arabs across the country have acquired high rates of postsecondary education, with 74% of the community between the ages of 25 and 64 completing postsecondary certificates, diplomas, or degrees, of which 60% completed a university certificate, diploma, or degree at bachelor level or above. This trend is reflected in the Canadian Arab community in Toronto, where 72% of Canadian Arabs aged 25-64 have completed postsecondary certificates, diplomas, or degrees compared to 69% of the city’s general population. In addition, Canadian Arabs outperformed the general population of Toronto in completing university certificates, diplomas, or degrees at bachelor level of above at a rate of 5:4.

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The most commonly chosen fields of study within the Canadian Arab community in Toronto are consistent with the community’s national trend, with 28% of the population choosing to pursue the sciences (12% in architecture, engineering, and related technologies, 8% in health and related fields, 4% in mathematics, computer and information sciences, 3% in physical and life sciences and technologies, and 1% in agriculture, natural resources and conservation), 16% in the social sciences and humanities (7% in social and behavioural sciences and law, 4% in the humanities, 3% in education, and 2% in visual and performing arts, and communications technologies), and 15% in business, management and public administration.

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Despite being a highly educated community and one that is specialized in competitive fields, Canadian Arabs in Toronto showed a higher rate of unemployment than the general population in Toronto – coming in at 8% in comparison with the city’s 6%. Canadian Arabs in Toronto also showed a slightly lower rate of participation in the labour force[iii] – with only 61% of Canadian Arabs aged 15 years and over participating in the labour force in comparison with the city’s rate of 67%.

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Occupations filled by Canadian Arabs are skewed significantly towards the business, management and commerce fields, with 36% of the population either in sales and service occupations (23%), business finance and administration occupations (16%), or management occupations (12%). Only 17% of the population are employed in occupations relating to the natural sciences, with 10% in natural and applied scieneces and related occupations, and 7% in health occupations.

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The industries in which Canadian Arabs are employed continue in a similar trend as the fields of occupation, with the majority of Canadian Arabs employed in the trade or service industries, followed by the medical and professional sciences industries.

Income[iv] in the Canadian Arab community in Toronto

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The gap in average total income between the Canadian Arab community and the general population of Toronto is notable, standing at $7,503 (compared to an average employment income gap at only $926). This indicates that Canadian Arab employees made comparable wages and salaries to other Torontonians, however, other sources of income that contributed to the total average income of the Canadian Arab community yielded significantly lower returns.

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Furthermore, the distribution of wealth within the Canadian Arab community reveals that for the year 2010, a weighty 64% of the community fell within income brackets under $30,000 whereas only 53% of Toronto’s general population fell within the same income brackets. This demonstrates that a majority of Canadian Arabs make incomes lower than the community’s average total income of $36,959 or the city’s average total income of $44,462.

These figures show that while Canadian Arabs residing in Toronto are a fairly well established community with high rates of Canadian citizenship and high levels of education and qualification, they have yet to achieve the same standards of living as the general population in the city in terms of employment and income.


[i] All data tables extracted from Statistics Canada, 2011 Census, and 2011 National Household Survey.  References to Toronto mean the Greater Toronto Area

[ii] “Children in census families” refers to blood, step or adopted sons and daughters (regardless of age or marital status) who are living in the same dwelling as their parent(s), as well as grandchildren in households where there are no parents present. Persons not in census families may live with relatives (so long as they are not living with their parent(s) or grandparent(s)), they may live with non-relatives (eg. flat-mates), or they may live alone. ie. sons and daughters (irrespective of age or marital status) living with their parents or grandparents.

[iii] “Persons not in census families” refers to those who are single, without children, and who choose not to live with their parents.

[iv] “Participation rate in the labour force” refers to percentage of the community actively seeking employment, whereas persons “not in the labour force” refers to those who are not actively seeking employment (eg. homemakers, persons who are retired, etc.)

[v] Average employment income refers to the average income earned by the population aged 15 years and over who worked a full year, full time and with employment income in 2010. Average total income refers to average total income in 2010 of population aged 15 years and over, based on monetary receipts from certain sources, before income taxes and deductions, during calendar year 2010. It includes employment income from wages, salaries, tips, commissions and net income from self-employment (for both unincorporated farm and non-farm activities); income from government sources, such as social assistance, child benefits, employment insurance, old age security pension, Canada or Quebec pension plan benefits and disability income; income from employer and personal pension sources, such as private pensions and payments from annuities and RRIFs; income from investment sources, such as dividends and interest on bonds, accounts, GICs and mutual funds; and other regular cash income, such as child support payments received, spousal support payments (alimony) received and scholarships.