‘There’s a new Man­i­toba out there’

Ex­pert urges ‘long-term think­ing’ as non-Cau­casians inch to­ward ma­jor­ity

Winnipeg Free Press - - TOP NEWS - DY­LAN ROBERT­SON dy­lan.robert­son@freep­ress.mb.ca

TTAWA — Man­i­toba could be the first ma­jor­ity non-white prov­ince in re­cent his­tory, ac­cord­ing to a Uni­ver­sity of Win­nipeg econ­o­mist who says Ottawa must step up in or­der for cities and prov­inces to main­tain suc­cess­ful in­te­gra­tion.

Philippe Cyrenne said cen­sus data re­leased last week fall in line with trends ob­served over the past 15 years, with a high fer­til­ity rate among In­dige­nous peo­ple com­pared to that of Cau­casians, and large amounts of im­mi­gra­tion.

“If you look at, over time, those num­bers will be get­ting big­ger,” Philippe Cyrenne said. “So you have to have long-term think­ing.”

The data tied Man­i­toba and Bri­tish Columbia as prov­inces with the low­est percentage of Cau­casian peo­ple. In May 2016, about 63 per cent of re­spon­dents self-iden­ti­fied as Cau­casian, mean­ing they were nei­ther a vis­i­ble mi­nor­ity nor In­dige­nous.

From 2006 to 2016, the percentage of Cau­casians de­clined by 4.2 per cent in Man­i­toba, slightly lower than Nova Sco­tia’s 4.7 per cent change. Mean­while, the num­ber of those iden­ti­fy­ing as In­dige­nous in­creased by 28 per cent.

The num­ber of vis­ual-mi­nor­ity Man­i­to­bans al­most dou­bled in that time pe­riod. The cen­sus also showed of all Cana­dian cities, Win­nipeg had the sec­ond-high­est pro­por­tion of new im­mi­grants.

Cyrenne said that’s par­tially in­flu­enced by the fam­ily-re­uni­fi­ca­tion pro­gram, which al­lows eco­nomic im­mi­grants to bring their close rel­a­tives to Canada.

The eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor is quick to note the vast ma­jor­ity of Man­i­toba’s im­mi­grants are not asy­lum-seek­ers, and more than half are se­lected through the prov­ince’s nom­i­nee pro­gram.

Cyrenne said de­mog­ra­phers and econ­o­mists see a trend in peo­ple mi­grat­ing from high-fer­til­ity, eco­nom­i­cally trou­bled coun­tries to de­vel­oped, Western ones where birth rates are lower. “There is a feel­ing that the mi­gra­tion, from what you would call the de­vel­op­ing world to the de­vel­oped world, is prob­a­bly not go­ing to slow any time soon.”

The econ­o­mist said Man­i­toba has a largely suc­cess­ful ex­pe­ri­ence with in­te­gra­tion, get­ting peo­ple to learn English and take on jobs that let their fam­i­lies

Ogain a foothold in the econ­omy.

But he said the de­cline of en­try-level jobs and high de­mand for English-lan­guage cour­ses mean pres­sure on pro­vin­cial hous­ing sub­si­dies and city-run ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams.

“The fed­eral gov­ern­ment, in many ways, can take the credit for im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy,” he said. “(But) they’re of­fload­ing these long-term costs.”

Wilf Falk, Man­i­toba’s for­mer chief statis­ti­cian, said he wasn’t sur­prised by the re­cently re­leased data. “These are trends that have been com­ing for a long time,” he said.

Falk said Prairie prov­inces used to be known for their out-mi­gra­tion decades ago, when jobs were sparse, but Man­i­toba has seen in­creas­ing im­mi­gra­tion since the turn of the cen­tury.

“There’s a new Man­i­toba out there; it’s not what a lot of peo­ple even now still think Man­i­toba is,” he said. “You have this mixed growth, and what we’re see­ing is a con­tin­u­a­tion.”

He said a large part of that growth comes from high In­dige­nous birth rates and pos­si­bly due to adults claim­ing First Na­tions and Métis roots.

The cen­sus data show Man­i­toba chil­dren aged zero to nine make up about one-fifth of the In­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion, while about one-10th of the non-Abo­rig­i­nal pop­u­la­tion.

It also shows less in­tense growth in peo­ple of adult age self-iden­ti­fy­ing as be­ing First Na­tions or Métis, some­thing that could be caused by them dis­cov­er­ing their roots, mov­ing from an­other prov­ince or mis­un­der­stand­ing the cen­sus ques­tion.

Thomas An­der­son, a Sta­tis­tics Canada an­a­lyst spe­cial­iz­ing in In­dige­nous de­mo­graph­ics, said it’s un­clear how many Man­i­to­bans fit in each cat­e­gory. “We’re un­able at this point to put too fine a point on it,” he said.

In any case, In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties are see­ing a baby boom, one that sur­passes Man­i­toba’s al­ready high birthrate.

A 2015 re­port tal­lied In­dige­nous pop­u­la­tions, age group­ings and mov­ing pat­terns. The study pro­jected from 2011 to 2036, In­dige­nous peo­ple would make up between 17.6 per cent and 21.3 per cent of Man­i­toba’s pop­u­la­tion.

“The 2016 data is al­ready a bit higher than their low-end pro­jec­tion,” An­der­son said.

JOHN WOODS / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Win­nipeg res­i­dents walk along Portage Av­enue, a mix­ture of races ap­par­ent. The face of Man­i­toba is chang­ing — and cen­sus data sug­gest in rel­a­tive terms, Cau­casian peo­ple are not as plen­ti­ful as in the past.

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