Bilingualism Rate in Canada

Bilingualism by Province

Of the ten Canadian provinces, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Ontario are home to the most bilingual residents—people who self-report an ability to speak both official languages.

Quebec is the province with the highest bilingualism rate, or 40.8%. In comparison, in New Brunswick—the only officially bilingual province—34.2% of residents reported being bilingual in the 2001 census. In other provinces, this rate varies from 3% to 12%. In Ontario, the rate is 11.7%.

English-French Bilingualism Rate

Province/Territory

1971

1981

1991

1996

2001

Source: Statistics Canada, The Daily, December 2, 1997/2001 census.
British Columbia 4.6% 5.7% 6.4% 6.7% 7.0 %
Alberta 5.0% 6.4% 6.6% 6.7% 6.9 %
Saskatchewan 5.0% 4.6% 5.2% 5.2% 5.1 %
Manitoba 8.2% 7.9% 9.2% 9.4% 9.3 %
Ontario 9.3% 10.8% 11.4% 11.6% 11.7 %
Quebec 27.6% 32.4% 35.4% 37.8% 40.8 %
New Brunswick 21.5% 26.5% 29.5% 32.6% 34.2 %
Prince Edward Island 8.2% 8.1% 10.1% 11.0% 12.0 %
Nova Scotia 6.7% 7.4% 8.6% 9.3% 10.1 %
Newfoundland 1.8% 2.3% 3.3% 3.9% 3.7 %
Yukon 6.6% 7.9% 9.3% 10.5% 10.1 %
Northwest Territories 6.1% 6.1% 6.1% 6.3% 8.3 %
Nunavut - - - 4.1 % 3.8 %
Canada 13.5% 15.3% 16.3% 17.0% 17.7 %

This map from the Atlas of Canada shows bilingual zones in Canada:

French-English Bilingualism
Class Symbol 0 - 4.9%   Class Symbol 20 - 34.9%
Class Symbol 5 - 9.9%   Class Symbol 35 - 49.9%
Class Symbol 10 - 19.9%   Class Symbol 50 - 71%

Source: http://atlas.gc.ca/

French-Language Education Systems

591,615 students learn English as a second language in Quebec and New Brunswick.

Statistics are unavailable for the other provinces and territories.

English Language Education Systems

2,060,322 students learn French as a second language, including 328,451 in French immersion.

Statistics are unavailable for regular French as a second language programs in anglophone schools.

Source: 2001–2002 data. Centre for Education Statistics, Statistics Canada

Bilingualism by Mother Tongue

Statistics Canada shows that the bilingualism rate is higher for francophones than anglophones and allophones. At the national level, 43.4% of francophones reported being bilingual, compared to 11.8% of allophones and 9.0% of anglophones.

French-English Bilingualism Rate by Linguistic Group: Canada, Provinces and Territories, and Canada Minus Québec, 1991, 1996, and 2001
 

Anglophones


Francophones

Allophones

%

%

%

1991

1996

2001

1991

1996

2001

1991

1996

2001

Canada 8.2 8.8 9.0 38.6 40.8 43.4 11.3 11.2 11.8
Newfoundland and Labrador 2.8 3.5 3.7 86.0 88.4 85.8 7.1 7.0 6.5
Prince Edward Island 6.4 7.2 8.3 88.0 91.3 90.1 6.6 11.7 10.0
Nova Scotia 4.8 5.7 6.4 91.6 92.4 93.7 9.7 8.9 10.7
New Brunswick 12.0 14.0 15.0 62.5 68.9 71.5 14.8 15.7 17.5
Quebec 58.4 61.7 66.1 31.3 33.7 36.6 46.5 46.7 50.4
Ontario 7.5 8.1 8.2 86.7 88.4 89.4 6.3 6.3 6.8
Manitoba 5.8 6.3 6.5 90.4 91.5 91.6 2.6 2.5 2.9
Saskatchewan 3.5 3.7 3.6 89.5 88.0 87.8 1.8 1.8 2.0
Alberta 4.9 5.1 5.3 89.2 89.7 89.6 3.8 3.9 4.1
British Columbia 5.2 5.7 6.0 88.1 88.6 89.0 4.5 4.3 4.4
Yukon Territory 6.5 7.3 7.3 91.2 93.5 89.3 5.3 5.8 8.2
Northwest Territories - 6.2 7.0 - 92.1 86.2 - 2.5 3.2
Nunavut - 8.5 7.3 - 93.8 86.3 - 0.6 0.7
Canada minus Quebec 6.3 6.9 7.1 81.2 83.8 85.1 5.3 5.3 5.7

In Quebec, the English mother tongue minority is the one that shows the highest bilingualism rate, with 66.1% of anglophones reporting they were bilingual in 2001, compared to 50.4% of allophones and 36.6% of francophones. However, all three groups were gaining ground. In New Brunswick, the bilingualism rate is 71.5% for francophones, 15% for anglophones, and 17.5% for allophones. In Ontario, it is 89.4% for francophones, 8.2% for anglophones, and 6.8% for allophones. In all other provinces, francophones show the highest bilingualism rates: 91.6% in Manitoba, 90.1% in Prince Edward Island, 89.6% in Alberta, 89.3% in Yukon, 89.0% in British Columbia, 87.8% in Saskatchewan, 86.3% in Nunavut, 86.2% in the Northwest Territories, and 85.8% in Newfoundland.