One of every five Canadian residents were born elsewhere: national survey

One out of every five people in Canada was born in another country, most notably Asia and the Middle East, according to details from a national survey released on Wednesday.

Results of the 2011 National Household Survey released by Statistics outline in some detail the "ethoncultural mosaic" that Canada has become.

"Canada is a nation with an ethnocultural mosaic as indicated by its immigrant population, the ethnocultural backgrounds of its people, the visible minority population, linguistic characteristics and religious diversity," the report states.

The results released on Wednesday outline a country with a shifting immigration base. Canada is home to some 6.7 million foreign-born residents, a number that represents more than 20 per cent of the country's population.

The survey says that 1,162,900 foreign-born residents moved to Canada between 2006 and 2011, more than half of which came from Asian nations, including the Middle East.

Of those, 62.5 per cent settled in Canada's three largest cities: Montreal, Vancouver or Toronto. Those cities are home to about 35 per cent of the country's entire population.

The National Household Survey was a voluntary poll that included 10 questions. It was introduced amid trepidation after the Conservative government axed the mandatory long-form census.

Statistics Canada itself cautioned that new style of survey could result in different answers.

"Although the 2011 Census data are considered to be of good quality, we have observed changes in the way in which Canadians responded to the questions on mother tongue, and language spoken at home, compared with previous censuses," the report reads.

"This methodology document has shown that these changes are largely due to the modifications made in the placement and context of the language questions in the 2011 Census questionnaire, in comparison to previous censuses."

Today's release, on immigration, was the first of three scheduled reports. Further reports are expected to be released on June 26 and August 14.