Canada recently released the results of the 2001 census on
Canadians' ethnic origins. The census revealed a drop in the
number of people who declared themselves Jewish by ethnicity
348,605 respondents across Canada claimed to have Jewish
ethnic origins -- a drop of about one per cent (3,000 people)
over the 1996 mini-census and more than five per cent
compared to the 1991 census.
In May, Statistics Canada is scheduled to release data on
religion. The 1996 mini-census did not ask about religion.
The 2001 census showed that "Jewish" was the 17th most
numerous choice of ethnic origin, between Welsh and Russian.
Respondents were allowed to choose up to four ethnic origins,
A total of 186,475 Canadians listed Jewish as their sole
ethnic origin (down five per cent from 1996), while 162,130
included Jewish among multiple responses (up five per cent
Canadian was, in fact, the most common ethnic category across
the country, followed by English, French and Scottish.
Rounding out the top ten ethnicities were Irish, German,
Italian, Chinese, Ukrainian and North American Indian.
Statistics Canada and Jewish officials have long regarded
Judaism as both a religion and an ethnic or cultural marker.
(No other faith or ethnicity falls into both categories.)
Community planners use the numbers to gauge many social
trends, such as intermarriage, immigration, education,
mobility and family status, and to help earmark communal
spending. UIA Federations Canada (UIAFC) and federations
across the country, are closely studying the 2001 census
numbers for the National Jewish Demographic Study.
The 1991 census found that 318,070 Canadians said their
religion was Jewish. Community planners using both religion
figures and ethnicity figures and excluding only those who
professed another religion, found 356,315 Jews in Canada as
Demographers say that identifying with Judaism as an
ethnicity tends to occur among those who are less religiously
observant. Thus, planners expect there will be higher levels
of "ethnic" Jews in British Columbia than in Quebec, where
"religious" Jews will show up in stronger numbers than ethnic
One thing is certain. Muslims in Canada far outnumber
Despite the decline in Jewish numbers nationally, Ontario and
Toronto continue to see increases. The 2001 census figures
show 196,260 Jews by ethnic origin in Ontario, up from the
191,000 who said the same thing in 1996, an increase of three
per cent. The 1991 census showed 175,000 Jews in Ontario by
Toronto and environs continue to be Canada's Jewish hub: The
2001 tally found 161,215 Jews by ethnicity in and around the
city. By comparison, the 1991 census found 156,000 Jews by
ethnic origin in Toronto and 151,000 Jews by religion.
In Montreal, 80,390 cited Jewish ethnic origins in 2001, a
drop of 11 per cent from 1996, when the figure was 89,905.
Jews are now the city's 7th largest ethnic group.
In Vancouver, 22,130 said they were ethnically Jewish in
2001, a very slight drop from 22,225 in 1996. Jews there
ranked as that city's 24th largest ethnic community.