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Settling in Canada Halifax Region Municipality PROFILE

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Halifax is Atlantic Canada’s hub city — bringing together industry, commerce, and regional decision-makers in a beautiful and historic city.


Halifax Facts

Halifax website

Population: 390,330 (2011)

Location — Eastern Canada
On Canada’s Atlantic coast.

Temperate. Four distinct seasons. Mild summers, cool winters.

Halifax is Atlantic Canada’s hub city — bringing together industry, commerce, and regional decision-makers in a beautiful and historic city.

The region offers rich history, heritage and culture along with innovation, research and high-tech industry.  The bustle of city life is complemented by a network of parks, trails and stunning beaches. Halifax is an internationally-known centre for tourism and the arts, as well as green industry, and a centre for higher education.

In October 2011 the Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding was chosen to negotiate the right to build Canada’s next generation federal combat vessel fleet. The contract will be a significant economic driver in the years to come.

Halifax Features:

  • The youngest and the fastest growing population in Atlantic Canada
  • A $10 billion economy
  • Regional assets such as the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, the Port of Halifax, new Regional Central Library, Halifax Seaport Farmers Market, the Canada Games Centre and the permanent outdoor skating Oval
  • A consistent ranking as one of Canada’s most sustainable cities
  • Six universities and three community colleges — and one of the highest post-secondary enrolment and education levels of any city in Canada
  • The highest concentration of artists and cultural producers in the Atlantic region, and 4th in Canada
  • A culture of civic engagement, including numerous civic events and festivals, as well voluntary and cultural organizations
  • A 65% increase in newcomers from 2005 to 2009, and a growing array of community-based settlement services
  • Easy access to transit, numerous beautiful parks, trails, beaches and historic sites
  • City living, the charms of small town life and the pristine beauty of nature — all in one place


Halifax Population

Halifax Regional Municipality is a welcoming community, where immigration is supported and encouraged. Between 2005 and 2010, Halifax’s population increased by 5.6 per cent with 11,000 new immigrants able to call Halifax home.

As of the 2011 National Household Survey, there were 31,260 immigrants living in Halifax – 8.1 per cent of the total population. Of these, 26.6 per cent — 8,305 people in all — arrived between 2006 and 2011.

Countries of origin
United Kingdom, United States, Other places of birth in Asia, Lebanon, China, India, Other places of birth in Africa, Philippines, Germany, Other places of birth in Americas.

First languages spoken
English, French, Arabic, Chinese, German.

Catholic, No religious affiliation, Anglican, United Church, Other Christian, Baptist.

Countries of Origin

These are the 30 most common birthplaces of immigrants to Halifax.

Country of Origin Total Immigrant Population
Immigrants Arriving
2006 – 2011
United Kingdom 6,185 900
United States 3,555 540
Other Places of Birth in Asia 2,725
Lebanon 1,370 195
China 1,325 525
India 1,190 430
Other Places of Birth in Africa 1,100
Philippines 985 630
Germany 970 80
Other Places of Birth in Americas 905
Other Places of Birth in Europe 890
Iran 880 635
Egypt 535 250
Korea, South 530
Netherlands 485
Poland 465 30
Russian Federation 430 190
Italy 410
Taiwan 395 220
Iraq 390 210
Viet Nam 385 45
Ireland, Republic of 350
Pakistan 305 45
Greece 300
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 265 25
Afghanistan 260 35
Colombia 250 140
France 235 45
Other Places of Birth 235
South Africa, Republic of 230 25

‡ Statistics Canada did not publish data for some countries of origin for recent immigrants.
Source: Statistics Canada (2011 National Household Survey)

First Languages

These are the top ten “first languages” — the mother tongue spoken by people who live in this city.

Mother Tongue Number (2011) % of Population (2011)
English 352,205 91.1%
French 11,940 3.1%
Arabic 5,835 1.5%
Chinese, n.o.s.* 2,265 0.6%
German 1,370 0.4%
Spanish 1,205 0.3%
Persian (Farsi) 1,170 0.3%
Tagalog (Pilipino, Filipino) 1,070 0.3%
Mandarin 840 0.2%
Russian 725 0.2%

* Not otherwise specified.
Source: Statistics Canada (2011 Census of Canada)


These are the religions with the most adherents in Halifax.

Religion # of Adherents (2011)
Catholic 121,400
No Religious Affiliation 95,660
Anglican 50,505
United Church 42,365
Other Christian 23,475
Baptist 22,645
Muslim 7,540
Presbyterian 5,305
Pentecostal 3,825
Lutheran 2,800
Christian Orthodox 2,645
Buddhist 1,590

Source: Statistics Canada (2011 National Household Survey)

Housing Information

Halifax has an active housing market. Between 2005 and 2010, nearly 14,000 new homes were built, and building permits increased by 34 per cent.

Greater Halifax offers a wide range of housing choices, from urban to rural, condominiums to single family detached, offered at a full range of prices.

Average rents
The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in April 2013 was $783 and a two bedroom apartment was $965. The average monthly rent for a three bedroom apartment was $1,207.

Vacancy rate and availability
In Halifax, the vacancy rate for one bedroom rental apartments was 2.9 per cent and for two bedroom apartments was 3.2 per cent. The vacancy rate of three bedroom rental apartments was 3.3 per cent. This was the proportion of rental apartments that are vacant and ready for move-in in April 2013.

The proportion, in April 2013, of apartments that are vacant or for which the present occupant has given notice to move-out was 4.1 per cent for one bedroom apartments, 4.6 per cent for two bedroom apartments, and 4.7 per cent for three bedroom apartments.

Home purchase prices
In Halifax, the average house price, in 2012, was $270,742.

For more up-to-date information, see CMHC's Housing Market Information website, and the Canadian Housing Observer.

Housing Help

Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation — Housing information for Newcomers

These websites provide information on housing in Halifax:

Nova Scotia Community Services — Affordable Housing and Repairs

The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada

Where to find housing in HRM


Halifax Employment

Halifax is Atlantic Canada’s commercial hub, creating over 19,000 new jobs between 2005 and 2010.

It has traditionally been a centre for the defence industry, health and education, and these strengths continue. It is now a growing centre for the aerospace, biotechnology and software design industries.

Halifax has been ranked one of the world’s most cost-competitive cities for business.

The Nova Scotia Nominee Program can fast-track immigration for some skilled workers.

Job Search Help

These web sites list provide information for job seekers:




Private employment services may also be available.

Business Start-ups

These organizations offer advice and support to people starting small businesses in Halifax:

Greater Halifax Partnership

Canada Business, Services for Entrepreneurs

Immigrant Business Development Services, ISIS

Students in Business

Black Business Initiative

Fusion Halifax

Entering the Workforce

This organization helps immigrants evaluate foreign credentials

World Education Services Canada

This organization provides free business counselling to recent immigrants to help them enter the Halifax workforce:

Immigration Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS)


Halifax Education

Halifax calls itself “Canada’s Smart City.” Sixty-three per cent of Halifax’s working population have a university degree or trades certificate or diploma — the highest level in Canada. Halifax has several universities and community colleges of its own, including the internationally-known Dalhousie University.

Halifax also has 138 schools for children and youth provided through the Halifax Regional School Board. Schools are free of charge. Some schools also offer before- and after-school programs for a fee.

There are also special education programs for children with disabilities.

Universities and Colleges in or Near Halifax

Dalhousie University

Mount Saint Vincent University

Nova Scotia College of Art and Design

Nova Scotia Community College

Saint Mary's University

University of King's College

Elementary and Secondary Schools (for Children and Youth)

Halifax Regional School Board

Newcomers’ Guide to Nova Scotia Schools

Private schools may also be available.

Finding Childcare

Nova Scotia Department of Community Services

Community Services

Halifax Community Services

Halifax Regional Council created an Immigration Action Plan to welcome and support newcomers to Halifax in 2005. The Region is committed to providing excellent services to all residents, and in particular, ensuring the Region’s staff reflects the diversity of Halifax residents. For news, events and resources for newcomers, including the most recent version of the Newcomers Guide (now available in English, French and Arabic), please visit: www.halifax.ca/newcomers.

Language Training

These organizations offer English language training:


Halifax Public Libraries

Other Language Training

Settlement Help

These organizations provide all kinds of support to immigrants:

Citizen and Immigration Canada
Provides information on coming to Canada to immigrate, study, work and live.  On this website you will find forms, policies and regulations, research, services, publications and visa offices.

Nova Scotia Office of Immigration works to promote immigration to Nova Scotia. Through the provincial nominee program, immigrants are welcomed to Nova Scotia and are encouraged to settle here.

Nova Scotia Community Services provides services to children, youth, and people with disabilities and provides housing and financial assistance.

Greater Halifax Partnership (GHP) works to promote and attract economic growth in Greater Halifax. Provides networking for newcomers. It also screens applicants under the “Community Identified” stream of the Nova Scotia Nominee Program.

Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) is a community-based organization that has many services for newcomers. Newcomers often come here soon after they arrive. They provide settlement information, translation services, language assessment, English classes, writing and pronunciation classes, classes and programs to support professionals, Work in Nova Scotia (WINS), business start-up services and support, network opportunities, ESL tutors, crisis services and counselling for family problems.

Halifax Refugee Clinic has a mandate to provide legal representation for those claiming refugee status in Nova Scotia.

Multicultural Society of Nova Scotia
Creates a sense of belonging and respect for people of all cultures, including its annual Multicultural Festival.

YMCA Newcomer Services
YMCA is a community based organization that helps newcomers with new language, culture, community, recreation, active living, youth outreach and rural connections.

Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse (FANE)
Provides settlement and integration services to French-speaking immigrants to Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia Interpreting Services (NSIS) is a non-profit organization based in Halifax providing interpreting services in more than 40 languages.

African Diaspora Association of the Maritimes is an association to serve the needs of the African diaspora community of the Maritimes.

All Women’s Empowerment and Development Association (AWEDA) is a non-profit community-based organization dedicated to the social-cultural and economic empowerment of marginalized immigrant and refugee women focused on their effective integration into Canadian society.

Halifax Regional Municipality
The municipal government is not responsible for immigration and direct settlement services, yet it offers many services that newcomers can access. HRM also works with other levels of government and community based organizations to help them settle here. Some services include:

For a complete list of municipal services, visit: http://www.halifax.ca/CitizenGuide/.

Other Resources

Newcomer’s Guide to Halifax Regional Municipality
(available in English, French and Arabic)

Citizens Guide to Municipal Services

Newcomers’ Guide to Nova Scotia Schools

Connections Guide — an immigrant’s guide to starting a business in Nova Scotia

Immigrants’ Stories

Hassim’s Story

Hassim came to Halifax to study business at St. Mary’s University and participated in an apprenticeship program that landed him a job at a biotech firm in Bayers Lake. He has decided not to go back to Singapore because he is able to have a better quality of life here in Canada (Source: A Greater Halifax Economic Strategy 2011 – 2016).

Two Artists Speak:

“I think the biggest opportunity it [Halifax] provides is that it is a small community. So you get to know people. You can meet people quite quickly. And people are generally open to new filmmakers or new artists in the beginning. So I think that is definitely the biggest asset, just access to people with connections”.

Newcomer Visual Artist
Cited from Grant, J. and Buckwold, B. 2011. Attracting and Retaining Immigrant Artists: Challenges and Opportunities in Halifax. Atlantic Metropolis Centre – Working Paper Series.

“It’s not too busy but it’s busy enough”
Newcomer Visual Artist cited from Grant, J. and Buckwold, B. 2011. Attracting and Retaining Immigrant Artists: Challenges and Opportunities in Halifax. Atlantic Metropolis Centre – Working Paper Series.

Business Success Stories

Family Volunteering Video

HRM You Tube Channel




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