Knowledge Center

Visible Minorities in Canada


Nearly One-Fifth of Canadians Are Visible Minorities1

6,264,755 visible minorities live in Canada, 19.1% of the 32,852,325 overall population.2 

The Visible Minority Population Is Expected to Increase3

In the 2006 Census, visible minorities were 16.2% of the population.4 

  • By 2031, they are projected to be 29%–32% of the population.5
Over Half of Visible Minorities Are Women6

Women are 51.4% of all visible minorities.7 

Most Visible Minorities Live in Urban Areas8

95.9% of visible minorities live in census metropolitan areas.9 

  • Visible minorities make up 47.0% of the total population of Toronto and 45.2% in Vancouver.10 

  • Visible minorities are 20.3% of the population in Montreal, 28.1% in Calgary and 19.7% in Winnipeg.11 


Visible Minority Populations Are Young

The median age of visible minorities is 33.4.12

  • For the population overall, the median age is 40.1.13


South Asians, Chinese, and Blacks Are the Largest Visible Minority Groups14

South Asians, Chinese, and Blacks account for 61.3% of the visible minority population.15

  • The largest group, South Asians, are 25.0% of the total visible minority population and 4.8% of Canada's total population.16

Visible Minority Populations in Canada17

Total Visible Minority Population 6,264,750

South Asian








Latin American




Visible Minorities Are Highly Educated

Of visible minorities aged 25–64, 68.9% have a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree, compared to 64.1% in the general population.18


  • 38.2% of visible minorities have a university certificate, diploma or degree at bachelor level or above, compared to 25.9% of the general population.19 

Labour Force

Two-Thirds of Visible Minorities Are in the Labour Force20

66.3% of visible minorities are in the labour force.21

  • Women visible minorities have a labour force participation rate of 61.7%, nearly equal (61.6%) to the labour force participation rate for all women.22 

Minority Women Hold a Little Over a Third of Management Occupations23

Of all management occupations held by visible minorities, women hold 37.6% of the positions.24

  • This is about equal to the percentage of management occupations held by all women across Canada (37.4%).25 

Representation on Boards Was Higher in 2015 Than Any Previous Year26

Visible minorities held 7.3% of board seats in Financial Post 500 organizations in 2015.27


Representation in Parliament Is Also on the Rise

In 2015, 47 visible minority MPs were elected.28

  • They now make up 14% of Canada's 42nd national parliament.29


Pay Gap

Visible Minority Women Experience the Highest Wage Gap30

Visible minority women earn 84.4% of what visible minority men earn, based on median annual income for full-time workers.31 

  • Visible minority women earn 74.1% of what all men earn.32



Visible Minority Description

The Employment Equity Act defines as visible minorities “persons, other than Aboriginal persons, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.” The visible minority population consists mainly of the following groups: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean, and Japanese. The other three designated groups under the Employment Equity Act are women, Aboriginal people, and people with disabilities.33


Additional Resources

Catalyst, Career Advancement in Corporate Canada: A Focus on Visible Minorities ~ Survey Findings (2007).

Douglas Quan, "Have Canada's Changing Demographics Made it Time to Retire the Concept of ‘Visible Minority’?" National Post, June 27, 2014.

Ryerson University, DiversityLeads 2014 Report: Key Preliminary Findings, March 7, 2014 (2014).

Ryerson University, DiversityLeads—Women and Visible Minorities in Senior Leadership Positions: A Profile of Greater Montreal, Diversity Institute (February 2013).

Statistics Canada, “Visible Minority and Population Group Reference Guide,” National Household Survey, 2011 (2015).

How to cite this product: Catalyst. Quick Take: Visible Minorities in Canada. New York: Catalyst, 2016.