The Jewish Population of Canada - 2011 National Household Survey [2015 Reports Added]

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA

Principal Investigator(s): Charles Shahar

Study Dates: 2011

Population Estimates:

The Canadian Jewish population in 2011 was 391,665, representing 1.2% of the total Canadian population.   Jewish households in Canada account for 1.4% of all Canadian households.

Table 1 (page 6 of the Basic Demographics report and page 14 of the PDF) summarizes the steady rise in the Jewish population of Canada from 16,493 in 1901 to the current population of  just over 391,000.

The ten largest Jewish communities in Canada are Toronto: 188,710 Jewish persons, Montreal: 90,780, Vancouver: 26,255, Ottawa:14,010, Winnipeg:13,690, Calgary: 8,335, Edmonton: 5,550, Hamilton: 5,110, Victoria: 2,740 and London: 2,675.

Except for Victoria, there is a special report for each of these communities (plus Halifax and Windsor) following the 2011 Report Series model.  Links are on the left of this Overview page.

Note that precise numerical estimates are presented for population figures in all 2011 reports. following the Census-based model used previously. 


An historical comparison of the largest Canadian Jewish communities from the 1981 Census, the 1991 Census, the 2001 Census and the 2011 National Household Survey is presented on page 84 of the report (92 of the PDF).  It demonstrates that the results of the 2011 NHS are consistent with the earlier Census findings, but do reflect actual changes in Jewish population patterns in Canada.




Key Findings:

The Canadian Jewish population in 2011 was estimated at 391,665, representing 1.2% of the total Canadian population. All data are based on the 2011 Canadian National Household Survey.


There are nine reports (in five volumes) on Jewish Canada nationally plus an unnumbered Brief on Fertility Rates of Canada's Jewish Population. (1) Basic Population Demographics, (2) Jewish Population in Geographic Areas, (3) Jewish Seniors, (4) The Jewish Poor, (5) The Jewish Family, (6) Intermarriage, (7) Immigration & Language,  (8)Core FSU Jews and (9) Holocaust Survivors.

Canadian Local Community Reports.

In addition to these national reports, there are also reports on eleven Jewish communities in Canada. For Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Greater Vancouver, all eight parts of the report series are available; for Winnipeg, only the first six parts of the series and the Fertility Brief are available; for Calgary and Edmonton, only the first four reports exist. In the smaller Jewish communities (Halifax, Hamilton, London, and Windsor), Basic Demographics is often the only report.

In addition, the DataBank has added [2015] a report by Charles Shahar on the Sephardic Community of Montreal in French and in English, and a detailed analysis of the York Region of Toronto by Charles Shahar and Sandi Pelly.  

Analyses of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Montreal and Toronto were added by Shahar in December, 2015; .  All three reports on Jewish Holocaust Survivors can be found at this Holocaust Survivor in Canada link (also on left side links)

Population and Demographics: NATIONAL DATA

The Jewish population of Canada was 391,665 in 2011. Jews comprised 1.2% of the total Canadian population.

• Between 2001 and 2011 the Jewish community of Canada grew by 17,605 people (4.7%). The rate of growth of the national community was only a little more pronounced than that between 1991 and 2001 (4.2%).

• The median age of the national Jewish population (40.5 years) is slightly higher than that of Canada’s overall population (40.1 years).

• The number of Jewish Canadians between 0-14 years of age has decreased in the last decade from 72,235 in 2001 to 71,280 in 2011, while the 15-24 year cohort has increased and the 25-44 year cohort has remained at about the same level since 2001, currently numbering 92,200 individuals.

The 45-64 age group has increased in the last decade, from 98,790 in 2001 to 109,515 in 2011. This bulge in the age distribution represents the “Baby Boomer” generation.

The number of Jewish seniors (65+ years) has increased from 62,125 to 66,280 individuals in the last decade. The Jewish community has a larger proportion of seniors (16.9%) than the total Canadian population (13.9%).


• More than half (57.9%) of Jews in Canada reside in the province of Ontario, and about a
quarter (23.9%) in the province of Quebec.

Smaller percentages of the total reside in British Columbia (8.9%), Alberta (4%) and Manitoba (3.7%).

The remainder of the provinces have less than 1% each of the total Jewish population of this country.

• Of the ten provinces, six have shown Jewish population gains between 2001 and 2011, two have shown population losses, and two have stayed approximately the same.

The provinces that have shown Jewish population losses between 2001 and 2011 are Manitoba (-6%) and Quebec (-1.7%).

• The areas with the highest densities of Jews in Canada are the districts of Hampstead and Cote St. Luc, both in the Montreal CMA, where Jews comprise 75.2% and 62.1% of the overall population, respectively.

• The fastest-growing Jewish community of the last decade was that of Lindenwoods/Whyte Ridge in the Winnipeg CMA, with a growth of 252.6%; followed by Milton / Halton Hills in the Toronto CMA, with a 138.3% increase of population.

• The City of Vaughan, in the Toronto CMA, had by far the largest absolute increase of any Jewish community in the country, gaining 12,700 Jews between 2001 and 2011.

• The districts of Boisbriand and Outremont, both in the Montreal CMA, have the youngest
Jewish populations in the country, with median ages of 13.5 years and 19.6 years,
respectively.  Both of these areas have significant Chassidic communities.

Jewish Seniors

• There are 66,280 Jewish elderly 65+ years residing in Canada. Seniors comprise 16.9% of the 391,650 members of the Jewish community in this country. There are 31,985 Jews 75+ years, comprising 8.2% of the national Jewish population. These figures do not include Jewish seniors living in institutions.

• The percentage of elderly in the national Jewish community (16.9%) is higher than the proportion of seniors in the total Canadian population (13.9%). However, the gap between these two figures has diminished in the last two decades.

• While seniors represent 16.9% of Canadian Jews, they account for 38.8% of all Jews who live alone.

• A large number of elderly Jews reside in the Toronto metropolitan area (30,960), comprising almost half (46.7%) of the total senior Jewish population in Canada. There is also a large contingent of Jewish elderly in Montreal (18,525). Greater Vancouver has 3,625 Jewish seniors, Winnipeg has 2,580, and Ottawa has 1,970.

• A significant percentage (40.2%) of elderly Jewish women in this country live alone; only 17.7% of men live in single person households.

• A total of 10,395 Jewish seniors live below the poverty line, or 15.7% of the elderly Jewish population in Canada. More than a third (36.4%) of elderly women who live alone are poor, The number of poor elderly women in single person households is
three times that of men.

• About half (50.2%) of Canada’s Jewish elderly report they are suffering some level of disability.

The Jewish Poor

There are 57,195 Jews living below the poverty line in Canada. The poor comprise 14.6% of a total population of 391,330 Jews residing in Canada.

• There was a significant growth in the number of Jewish poor in this country between 2001 and 2011; the economic recession that began in 2008, and which still has a significant impact on the Canadian economy, might have contributed to the higher poverty levels.

• The level of poverty among children 0-14 years in the Canadian Jewish population is 13.7%. There are 9,740 Jewish children in this country who live in economically disadvantaged circumstances.

• Almost one of six elderly Jews (65+ years) are poor, but senior women are significantly more likely to be disadvantaged than men (19.4% and 11.6% respectively).

• The largest number of disadvantaged Jews in the country is located in the Toronto metropolitan area (24,310). The Toronto CMA has 42.5% of the 57,195 Jewish poor residing in Canada.

However, the Montreal Jewish population has the highest incidence of poverty of any major Jewish community in the country (20%).

The Jewish Family

•  There are 184,040 Jewish households in Canada, comprising 1.4% of the total 13,319,250 households in Canada.

•  Within the Jewish population, the current level of those living in family arrangements
(83.3%) is lower than the figure for 1991 (85.8%).

•   In 1991, there were 25,730 Canadian Jews living in single parent families. When compared to the 2011 figure of 33,555, this represents an increase of 30.4% in the last two decades.

•   More than one in ten Jewish children (< 15 years) in Canada live in lone parent families

•   In the last decade, the fastest growing groups as far as marital status is concerned were those choosing to live in common law arrangements (+32.5%) and those who are divorced / separated (+22.1%).

• Nationally, Jews in young adulthood (18-26 years) are about as likely to marry as non-Jews of that age group, but are significantly less inclined to live in common law partnerships.

• Persons living alone comprise 12.9% of the total Jewish population in Canada.

• While seniors represent 16.9% of Canadian Jews, they account for 38.8% of all Jews who live alone.


•   26.3% of Jewish spouses / partners are married to, or partnered with, non-Jews in Canada. This figure is considered to be the intermarriage rate for the national Jewish population. In absolute terms, 48,515 of 184,705 Jewish spouses / partners are intermarried.

•  The level of intermarriage among spouses less than 30 years of age is 43%.  Among those who are at least 40 years old, it is 22.4%. 

•   There has been an increase of 59% of Jews living in intermarried households in the last two decades. The number has climbed from 45,505 to 72,370 individuals between 1991-2011. As a proportion of the total Jewish population, the percentage of Jews living in intermarried households increased from 16.8% in 1991 to 25% in 2011.

•   About a quarter (25.1%) of Jewish children under 15 years of age (living in couple families) reside in intermarried arrangements. This represents 15,485 children.

• Regarding the youngest children of intermarried couples, about a quarter (27%) are identified by their parents as Jews; about half (56.4%) are assigned no religious affiliation; and the rest (16.6%) are identified as having other religions.

•  Whether it is the husband or the wife who is of the Jewish faith has a significant bearing on the religious orientation of their children.

•   The metropolitan area with the largest proportion of Jews living in intermarried households is Victoria (73.5%), followed by Kingston (65%), Regina (54.8%), and Halifax (53%). The lowest intermarriage levels are found in Montreal (15%) and Toronto (17.3%).

•  In absolute terms, the largest number of intermarried Jews live in Toronto (24,780). There are 10,100 such individuals living in Montreal, and 7,820 in Greater Vancouver.

Immigration and Language

• About a third (33.1%) of Canada’s Jewish population are immigrants, whereas 66.9% were born in Canada; the level of immigration among the Jewish population in Canada  is significantly higher than that of immigrants in the overall population of this country (22%).

• In the national Jewish community, there are 35,050 individuals who were born in the Former Soviet Union. There are also 21,155 Jews born in Israel, 17,805 born in the United States, 15,130 in Western Europe, 13,610 in Eastern Europe (excluding the FSU), and 12,020 in North Africa and the Middle East (excluding Israel).

• In terms of immigrants arriving between 2000 and 2011, the largest number came from the Former Soviet Union (13,540); a similar number arrived between 1990 and 1999 (13,400). The influx of FSU-born Jewish immigrants in the last two decades represents the largest arrival from a single country or region to Canada since the 1901-1921 immigrations of East European Jews.

• Between 2000 and 2011, 7,955 Israeli-born immigrants settled in this country, compared to 3,550 individuals between 1990 and 1999. The last decade has seen the largest increase in the number of Israeli-born immigrants in the history of the national community.  Those born in Israel are the youngest of any immigrant group in the national Jewish community, with a median age of 34.8 years. The oldest groups include Jews born in Poland (81.8 years), Iraq (70.8 years), Syria (70.1 years), Hungary (69.6 years), and Czechoslovakia (69.3 years).

Core FSU Jews

• Jews of “Core” FSU extraction were defined as individuals who identified themselves as Jewish according to the Revised Jewish Definition, and were born in the FSU, had parents
who were born in the FSU, or were children in a household where the parents met any of the above criteria.

• The total number of Core FSU Jews in Canada was found to be 56,825. Individuals of Core FSU extraction comprise 14.5% of the total population of 391,665 Jews residing in Canada. 

• Compared to "Other Jews" living in Canada, Core FSU Jews have greater percentages of
individuals less than 45 years of age; for example, 36.6% of Core FSU Jews are 45+ years compared to 46.3% of "Other Jews."

• By far the largest Core FSU Jewish population is located in Toronto (36,000). Montreal has 7,770 Jews of Core FSU background, whereas Vancouver has 3,270. The next largest Core FSU Jewish population is located in Winnipeg (2,055), followed by Ottawa / Gatineau (1,610), Calgary (1,355) and Edmonton (1,290). All the other Core FSU Jewish populations have fewer than 1,000 individuals.

• The Toronto Jewish community has by far the largest number of Core FSU children less than 15 years 7,525), teens and young adults 15-24 years (4,975), individuals 25-44 years (9,435), middle-aged persons 45-64 years (9,475), and seniors 65+ years (4,585).


Jewish Holocaust Survivors.  The estimated number of Holocaust Survivors in Canada is 17,300, with just over half residing in Toronto and another one-of-three residing in Montreal.  In general, Jewish Holocaust Survivors age 66+ are poorer than comparably-aged Jewish non-Survivors and non-Jewish Canadian seniors, and tend to be more likely to be disabled "often."  The three reports on Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Canada (national, Montreal, Toronto) all examine issues of age, poverty, disability and the interaction of these variables and household living arrangements -  all analyzed in the context of comparisons of Jewish Survivors to Jewish non-Survivors age 66+ and all Canadian seniors 66+.


Jewish Fertility Rates:  A Brief on Fertility Rates of Canada's Jewish Population was added to the National Canadian 2011 NHS analysis in April 2015, paralleling a similarly issued five-to-six page “Brief” for most of the major Jewish communities in Canada. 

• Table 1 indicates that the Jewish fertility rate estimate is 1.99 for Canadian Jews overall (below the standard 2.1 replacement rate standard). 

• Other tables compare fertility rates among Jewish communities in Canada, and to fertility rates among major ethnic groups in Canada.




Study Notes:


DataBank users should review the Appendices to all the Canadian Jewish population reports in addition to the main text and summary of findings - - especially the discussions of the implications of the change from a Census-based long-form model for previous reports to the 2011 National Household Survey.

The Appendices include discussions of the utility of the National Household Survey of 2011 (which replaced earlier Census "long-form" data collection efforts), a discussion of the Revised Jewish Definition used in 2011 and a comparison with the Standard Jewish Definition used in earlier Census-based reports on Jewish Canada, a discussion of ethnic origin attribution used in the definition of Jewish persons, and supplemental, additional tables on both demographics and geography.


NOTE: Part 2 of the National report, Geographic Areas, includes a wealth of information on Canadian Jewish geography, first emphasizing Jewish population distribution by Province and Territories, and then by Jewish community. 

DataBank users should note that important geographic analyses exist both in Part 2 section of the national report on the Jewish Population of Canada, 2011 and in the eleven special reports on Jewish communities which are listed  on the left side of this page.

Language: English