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Jamaicans in Canada


Canadians of Jamaican origin1 make up one of the largest non-European ethnic groups in Canada. In 2001, the Jamaican community was the fourth largest non-European ethnic group in Canada after the Chinese, East Indian, and Filipino communities. That year, there were just over 210,000 people of Jamaican origin living in Canada. Together, they represented almost 1% of the total Canadian population.

The Jamaican community in Canada is growing considerably faster than the overall population. Between 1996 and 2001, for example, the number of people who said they had Jamaican origins rose by 12%, whereas the overall population grew by only 4% in the same period.

The majority of Canadians of Jamaican origin say they have only one ethnic origin. In 2001, 65% of all those who reported Jamaican origins said they had only Jamaican roots, while 35% said they also had other ethnic origins. The share of the Jamaican population in Canada with multiple ethnic origins, though, is similar to that for the overall population, among which 40% reported multiple ethnic roots that year.

The majority are foreign-born
More than half of the Jamaican population living in Canada is foreign-born. In 2001, 53% of Canadians of Jamaican origin were born outside of Canada, compared with 18% of the overall population. Among foreign-born Canadians of Jamaican origin, 94% were born in the Caribbean.

As well, the majority of immigrants of Jamaican origin living in Canada arrived here in the past three decades. Of foreign-born Jamaicans living in Canada in 2001, 34% reported that they had arrived here between 1971 and 1980, while another 24% said they arrived in the 1980s and 26% arrived between 1991 and 2001. In contrast, only 2% immigrants of Jamaican origin came to Canada before 1961.

Most live in Ontario
The large majority of Canadians of Jamaican origin live in Ontario. Indeed, in 2001, Ontario was home to 85% of the total Canadian population with Jamaican ethnic roots. At the same time, 5% of Jamaicans resided in Quebec, 4% lived in Alberta and 3% in British Columbia. That year, there were a total of 181,000 people with Jamaican origins living in Ontario, while almost 11,000 lived in Quebec, 8,000 lived in Alberta, and 7,000 made British Columbia home. Overall, Canadians of Jamaican origin represented about 2% of the total population of Ontario, whereas in all other provinces and territories, they made up less than half a per cent of the total population.

A substantial majority of Canadians of Jamaican origin live in Toronto. In 2001, 71% of all people in Canada who reported they had Jamaican ethnic origins lived in Toronto. That year, there were just over 150,000 people with Jamaican roots residing in Toronto where they made up 3% of the total metropolitan population. People of Jamaican origin also made up 1% of the total population of Ottawa that year, whereas in all other cities they represented less than 1% of the total population.

Age distribution
The Jamaican population in Canada is relatively young. In 2001, children under the age of 15 represented 29% of the Jamaican community, compared with 19% of the overall population. At the same time, 16% of people of Jamaican origin, versus 13% of the overall population, were young adults aged 15 to 24.

In contrast, Canadians of Jamaican origin are less likely than other Canadians to be either seniors or approaching retirement age. In 2001, seniors made up just 6% of the Jamaican community, compared with 12% of all Canadians. Similarly, 19% of the Jamaican community, versus 24% of the overall population, were aged 45 to 64.

More women than men
Women make up the majority of the Jamaican community in Canada. In 2001, 54.3% of the Jamaican community, compared with 50.9% of the overall population, were female. Like their counterparts in the overall population, women also make up a substantial majority of seniors of Jamaican origin. In 2001, 61% of people of Jamaican origin aged 65 and over were women, whereas the figure in the overall population was 56%.

Almost all can speak an official language
The vast majority of the Jamaican population in Canada can speak one or both of the country’s official languages2. In 2001, 92% could carry on a conversation in English, while another 8% were bilingual and a small fraction could speak French only. In contrast, only a few hundred people with Jamaican roots were unable to converse in either English or French.

English is also the mother tongue3 of almost all Canadians of Jamaican origin. In 2001, 99% of the Jamaican community said that their mother tongue was English. Another 1% reported that their mother tongue was French, while a very small fraction indicated that the language they first learned and still understand is a non-official language.

Similarly, almost all Canadians of Jamaican descent speak English most often in their homes. In 2001, English was the home language of 99% of the Jamaican population in Canada, while the remaining 1% spoke either French or another language most often at home.

As well, almost all employed people of Jamaican origin speak English on the job. In 2001, 98% of employed Jamaicans reported that they always spoke English on the job, while close to 1% spoke French only, and another 1% spoke English and French while at work.

Religion
A large majority of Jamaicans living in Canada report they belong to a Christian religious denomination. In 2001, just over half (52%) of all Jamaicans in Canada reported that they belonged to a mainline Protestant denomination, while 18% said they were Catholic and a further 12% said they belonged to another Christian grouping.

Canadians of Jamaican origin are also about as likely as those in the rest of the population to say they have no religious affiliation. In 2001, 16% reported that they had no religious affiliation, compared with 17% of the overall population.

Family status
Canadians of Jamaican origin are less likely than other Canadians to be married. In 2001, 34% of people of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over were married, compared with about 50% of the overall adult Canadian population. Canadians of Jamaican origin are also less likely than other Canadians to live in a common-law relationship. That year, 7% were living common-law, compared with 10% of all Canadian adults.

At the same time, Canadians of Jamaican origin are considerably more likely than other Canadians to be lone parents. In 2001, 16% of those of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over were lone parents, compared with 6% of adults in the overall population. As in the overall population, though, the large majority of Jamaican lone parents are women. That year, women represented 89% of lone parents of Jamaican descent, while the figure in the overall population was 81%. In fact, in 2001, 25% of all adult women of Jamaican origin were lone parents, compared with 10% of women in the overall population.

Canadian adults of Jamaican origin are less likely than other adults to live alone. In 2001, 10% of people of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over lived alone, compared with 13% of all adult Canadians. Seniors in the Jamaican community are also less likely to live alone than seniors in the overall population. That year, 25% of people of Jamaican origin aged 65 and over lived alone, compared with 29% of all seniors in Canada.

In contrast, seniors in the Jamaican community are more likely than other seniors to live with members of their extended family. In 2001, 15% of Jamaican Canadians aged 65 and over lived with other relatives, such as the family of a son or daughter, compared with only 5% of all seniors in Canada.

Education
Canadians of Jamaican origin are less likely than people in the rest of the population to have a university degree. In 2001, 10% of Canadians of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over had either a bachelor’s or post-graduate degree, compared with 15% of the overall adult population.

At the same time, though, Canadians of Jamaican origin are more likely than those in the rest of the population to have completed a community college program. In 2001, 21% of people of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over were college graduates, compared with 15% of adults in the overall population.

In contrast to the overall population, women of Jamaican origin have somewhat more education than their male counterparts. For example, 11% of women of Jamaican origin had a university degree in 2001, compared with 9% of their male counterparts. Similarly, 26% of women of Jamaican descent were college graduates, compared with 15% of men. In contrast, 33% of Jamaican men, versus 26% of women, had not completed high school.

Canadians of Jamaican origin represent a high proportion of those trained in the health professions and related technologies. They are also particularly likely to have degrees in the social sciences, as well as in commerce, management and business administration. On the other hand, relatively few Canadians of Jamaican origin have degrees in highly technical fields such as engineering and the applied sciences.

Young people of Jamaican origin are slightly more likely than other young Canadians to be attending school. In 2001, 60% of Canadians of Jamaican origin aged 15 to 24 were enrolled in a full-time educational program, compared with 57% of all Canadians in this age group.

As in the overall population, young women are more likely than young men to be enrolled in a full-time educational program. In 2001, 61% of young women of Jamaican origin aged 15 to 24 were in school full-time, compared with 58% of their male counterparts.

Employment
Canadians of Jamaican origin are more likely to be employed than other Canadians. In 2001, 68% of Canadians of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over were employed, compared with 62% of adults in the overall Canadian population.

As with the overall population, men of Jamaican origin are more likely than women to be employed outside the home. In 2001, 70% of men of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over were part of the paid workforce, compared with 66% of women of Jamaican origin. Women in the Jamaican community, though, are significantly more likely to be employed than women in the overall population. That year, 66% of women of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over were employed, compared with 56% of all adult women in Canada. Men of Jamaican descent were also more likely than their counterparts in the overall population to be employed, 70% versus 67%; however, the gap was not as wide as that among women.

Employed Canadians of Jamaican origin make up a high proportion of all those employed in health-related occupations. In 2001, 9% of workers of Jamaican origin were employed in this field, compared with 5% of workers in the overall population. A relatively large proportion of workers of Jamaican origin work in manufacturing. That year, 9% were employed in this sector, compared with 7% of the overall workforce. On the other hand, people of Jamaican origin represented a relatively low proportion of those employed in management positions and in professional occupations in the natural and applied sciences.

Canadians of Jamaican origin are also somewhat less likely than those in the overall workforce to be self-employed. In 2001, just 6% of the Jamaican labour force worked for themselves, compared with 12% of their counterparts in the overall population.

Unemployment
Labour force participants4 of Jamaican origin are slightly more likely to be unemployed than labour force participants in the general population. In 2001, 8.6% of Jamaican labour force participants were unemployed, compared with 7.4% of those in the overall population.

As in the overall population, young people of Jamaican origin are more likely to be unemployed than older adults. In 2001, 19% of male Jamaican labour force participants aged 15 to 24 were unemployed, compared with 14% of all young Canadians males in this age category. At the same time, 17% of young female Jamaican labour force participants were unemployed, compared with 13% of their counterparts in the overall population.

Incomes
Canadians of Jamaican origin generally have lower incomes than the national average. In 20005, the average income from all sources for Canadians of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over was $26,400, almost $3,500 less than the national figure.

As in the overall population, women of Jamaican origin generally have lower incomes than their male counterparts. In 2000, the average income for women of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over was $23,600, over $6,500 less than the average for men of Jamaican origin. However, the income gap between women and men of Jamaican origin is somewhat smaller than the income gap in the overall population. That year, the average incomes of women of Jamaican origin were 78% those of men of Jamaican origin, whereas in the overall population the figure was 62%.

Canadian seniors of Jamaican origin have relatively low incomes. In 2000, the average income from all sources for Canadians of Jamaican origin aged 65 and over was just over $21,000, over $3,000 less than the average income for all seniors.

As with all seniors in Canada, female seniors of Jamaican origin have lower incomes than their male counterparts. In 2000, the average income for women of Jamaican origin aged 65 and over was just over $18,000, compared with $25,600 for senior men of Jamaican origin.

Canadians of Jamaican origin receive slightly more of their total income from earnings6 than does the overall population. In 2000, Canadians of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over said that 84% of their income came from earnings, while the figure for all Canadian adults was 77%.

At the same time, Canadians of Jamaican origin receive about the same share of their total income from government transfer payments as do other Canadians. In 2000, 11% of the income of Canadians of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over came from government transfers, while the average for all Canadians was 12%.

Many with low incomes
On average, Canadians of Jamaican origin are more likely than their counterparts in the overall population to have incomes that fall below Statistics Canada’s Low-income Cut-offs. In 2000, 26% of people in the Jamaican community in Canada lived in a household with an income below the Low-income Cut-offs, compared with 16% of the total Canadian population.

Children of Jamaican origin living in Canada are particularly likely to live in a low-income situation. In 2000, 34% of children of Jamaican origin under the age of 15 lived in a family with incomes below the Low-income Cut-offs, compared with 19% of all children in Canada.

Unattached adults of Jamaican origin are also somewhat more likely than their counterparts in the overall population to have low incomes. In 2000, 41% of unattached people of Jamaican origin aged 15 and over had low incomes, compared with 38% of those in the overall population.

Seniors of Jamaican origin who live alone are particularly likely to have low incomes. In 2000, 62% of unattached people of Jamaican origin aged 65 and over had incomes below the Low-income Cut-offs, compared with 40% of all unattached Canadian seniors.

Unattached female seniors of Jamaican origin are the most likely to have low incomes. In 2000, 69% Jamaican women aged 65 and over who lived alone had incomes below the Low-income Cut-offs, compared with 49% of unattached male seniors of Jamaican origin, and 43% of all unattached women aged 65 and over in Canada.

Most feel a sense of belonging to Canada
According to the Ethnic Diversity Survey, a substantial majority of Canadians of Jamaican origin feel a strong sense of belonging to Canada. In 2002, 81% of those who reported Jamaican origin said that they had a strong sense of belonging to Canada. At the same time, 71% said that they had a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group.

At the same time, though, half of all Canadians of Jamaican origin report they have experienced discrimination. In 2002, 51% of Jamaicans living in Canada said they had experienced discrimination or unfair treatment based on their ethnicity, race, religion, language or accent in the past five years, or since they arrived in Canada. Of Jamaicans who indicated they had experienced discrimination, 69% said that the discrimination had occurred in the workplace or when applying for a job.

Jamaican Canadian Association
Wes Hall


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