The 2001 Canadian Census tells a
story of aging, diversity and urbanization.
Our country is aging more
rapidly. The median age of the
population rose by the highest amount ever, 2.3 years, to a level of 37.6. It rose more in the last 15 years of the
century than it did in the first 85 years.
The old are getting older. We
experienced an increase of 41% in people over the age of 80 and Statistics
Canada is projecting a further increase of 43% by 2011. People can now think about "taking
retirement" at 55, and being retired, for 45 years or more. There was a 25% increase in people over the
age of 100, between censuses.
Canada is has the second highest
foreign-born population in the world (18%), next to Australia (24%).
Of immigrants who came to Canada in the 1990's, 43% of them
settled in the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Toronto.
There are about 4.7 million people in the CMA (roughly the area bounded by Ajax, Bradford, Orangeville and Burlington).
Of those people, 44% are foreign born.
This makes Toronto, the city with the largest
foreign-born population, and arguably, the most multicultural, multi-ethnic,
multilingual and multifaith city in the world.
Miami and Vancouver rank second and third.
Larger centres are growing. Four urban economic systems now comprise 51%
of our total population as per below:
BC Lower Mainland and Southern Portion
Edmonton Calgary Corridor
3. Extended Golden Horseshoe (Oshawa, Barrie, Kitchener, Niagara Falls)
Montreal and Adjacent Environs
The story of urbanization, is
"urbanization where?" In Northern Ontario, every large urban centre lost
population between censuses.
The strength of the United Church, the strength of the Toronto
Conference of the United Church, is in the country, in the
smaller centres. This is the backbone of
the church. The church does not have
significant strength in the city itself - in none of the large cities. This is, perhaps, not surprising. None of the 445,000 immigrants who came to Toronto from 1996 to 2001 brought with
them an affiliation to the United Church of Canada.
The United Church is very much an "of Canada" church. Its history, and the history of the nation,
are bound up together. You cannot tell
the one story without the other. The
church is almost as much about building Canada as it is doing God's work. In many respects the good work of God, in Canada, was conducted first by the
church and later institutionalized by government. This is the story of the social gospel. Much of that social gospel is a story of
immigrants. The message of the church,
obscure, unpopular, became popularized; through the diligent work of people
like the Reverend Lydia Gruchy, the first woman ordained in the church, whose
ministry was built entirely on concern for the fate of new Canadians. If the United Church had not been a church of
immigrants the United Church would not be, now.
But so it is now, that the United Church, in our large cities, needs to
turn its attention once again the Lydia Gruchy's concern - only this time in an
urban setting. There is much to learn
from the 2001 Census. Immigrants aren't
keeping pace. StatCan also reported,
that, while immigrants of the '70's made the same money as Canadian born
workers after being here for ten years, immigrants of the 90's earned only 80
In the Toronto CMA there are 15 mother tongue
language groups with a population of at least 50,000 people. There are 64 ethnic origin groups of 10,000
plus. Anyone of these groups is bigger
than many small towns in southern Ontario.
While the church lost adherents
between 1991 and 2001 (we are now just less than 10% of the population) what was
not lost was the mission of the church and the necessity for its message to be
evangelized amongst adherents and others.
This church has been good for Canada historically, and it is good for Canada now. The intellectualism of the church has brought
us a far way. We are not afraid to say we
are wrong when we have been wrong. Our
inclusivity appeals to the heart of a diverse Canadian society. There is much to celebrate about the
contributions our church has made to the social condition of the Canadian
population. We have been passionate followers
active partners in God's transformation of ourselves, and the world. Those, that are new here, need to hear that
message. Let us proclaim it.