A Profile of the Canadian Arab Community in Montreal

The 7th in a series analyzing the 2011 census data released by Statistics Canada, this report provides a profile of the Canadian Arab population residing in Montreal.

By Ghina Dajani, CAI Research Fellow

Published: March 2015

The 7th in a series analyzing the 2011 census data released by Statistics Canada, this report provides a profile of the Canadian Arab population residing in Montreal.[i]


Montreal’s Canadian Arab community – a visible minority

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Montreal’s Canadian Arab community is the largest population gathering of Canadian Arabs in a Canadian city, accounting for 33% of the total population of Canadian Arabs residing in Canada (277,050 of 750,925 Canadian Arabs).  The community constitutes slightly over 4% of the city’s total population.

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Among the self-identified Arab ethnicities in Montreal, the Lebanese and Moroccan communities represent the largest demographics (at 22% and 19% respectively), and the Iraqi and Somali communities represent the smallest numbers (at 1% and 0.3% respectively).

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

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When it comes to religious affiliation, the composition of the Canadian Arab community in Montreal reflects the community’s national trend – with those of the Muslim faith constituting a majority (at 59%) followed by Christians (29%).

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While the Canadian Arab community in Montreal falls within a similar break-down of marital status as that of the Canadian Arab community nationally, there are significant differences between Canadian Arabs in Montreal and the rest of the city’s population.

Marital status in the Canadian Arab community in comparison with the general population in Montreal is significantly different, where married (and not separated) couples constitute a higher percentage in the Canadian Arab community (57%) than they do in Montreal’s population (37%) at a rate of 3:2. On the other hand, common-law partners account for a significantly higher percentage of the general population of Montreal (18%) than they do within the Canadian Arab community (4%) at a rate of 9:2. The divorce rate falls slightly lower within the Canadian Arab community than in the general population of Montreal, at 4%, in comparison to the city’s rate of 7%.

The percentage of singles, as well as that of separated couples, is exactly the same within both populations (Arab and non-Arab) – falling at 31% and 2% respectively.

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Common-law partnerships are far less likely within the Canadian Arab community (at 3%) than within the general population (at 15%). Furthermore, the presence of lone parents in Montreal’s population (5%) is somewhat higher than it is in the Canadian Arab community (3%).

A higher rate of children in census families[i] is present in the Canadian Arab community (42%) than in the general population of Montreal (30%), while a lower rate of persons not in census families[ii] is present in the Canadian Arab community (13%) than in the general population of Montreal (20%). This indicates that Canadian Arabs are less likely to live as singles, independently of their parents and families, than their Montreal counterparts.

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, less likely to be lone parents, 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 Montreal are immigrants (64%), only 25% 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 Montreal are first generation immigrants, accounting for 67% of the community.

Education and Employment in Montreal’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 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 Montreal, where 81% of Canadian Arabs completed postsecondary certificates, diplomas, or degrees compared to 68% of the city’s general population. In addition, Canadian Arabs outperformed the general population of Montreal in completing university certificates, diplomas, or degrees at bachelor level or above at a rate of 7:5.

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The most commonly chosen fields of study within the Canadian Arab community in Montreal are consistent with the community’s national trend, with 48% of the population choosing to pursue the sciences (15% in architecture, engineering, and related technologies, 7% in health and related fields, 5% in mathematics, computer and information sciences, 5% in physical and life sciences and technologies, and 1% in agriculture, natural resources and conservation), 24% in the social sciences and humanities (9% in social and behavioural sciences and law, 5% in the humanities, 4% in education, and 2% in visual and performing arts, and communications technologies), and 17% 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 Montreal showed almost double the rate of unemployment than Montreal’s general population – coming in at 15% in comparison to the city’s 7.7% (even while having an identical participation rate in the labour force, at 66%).

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Occupations filled by Canadian Arabs are skewed significantly towards the business, management and commerce fields, with 49% of the population either in sales and service occupations (23%), business finance and administration occupations (15%), or management occupations (11%). Only 17% of the population are employed in occupations relating to the natural sciences, with 11% in natural and applied scieneces and related occupations, and 6% 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[iii] in the Canadian Arab community

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There is a significant gap in the average income between the Canadian Arab community and Montreal’s general population. Whereas the average employment income was higher for the city’s population by $2,219 in 2010, the average total income was higher by $6,686.

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Furthermore, the distribution of wealth within the Canadian Arab community reveals that for the year 2010, a staggering 66% of the community fell within income brackets under $30,000 whereas only 55% of Montreal’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 $31,595 or the city’s average total income of $38,281.

These figures show that while Canadian Arabs residing in Montreal 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] “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.

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

[iii] 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.