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Settling in Canada City of Ottawa PROFILE

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Ottawa is one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world. A thriving business and government centre, Ottawa is also rich in culture and heritage with its many national institutions, parklands, waterways and historic architecture.


Ottawa Facts

Population: 921,825 (2011)

Location – Central Canada
On the border between Ontario and Quebec.

Warm humid summers, cold and snowy winters.

Ottawa is one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world. A thriving business and government centre, Ottawa is also rich in culture and heritage with its many national institutions, parklands, waterways and historic architecture.

Ottawa is home to a large number of foreign embassies and is a recognized centre for both academics and professional training. The city offers an open and welcoming environment to cultures from around the world, providing service in English, French, and many other languages.

Ottawa features:

  • Home to Canada’s Federal Government with over 110,000 government jobs
  • Over 1,800 advanced technology companies employing more than 76,000 people
  • One of Canada’s top sites for research and development
  • Highest number of residents with post-secondary education in Canada
  • More engineers, scientists and PhDs per capita than any other city in Canada
  • 44 per cent of residents speak both English and French
  • North America’s least expensive major city to live in (Mercer)
  • One of the greenest capitals in the world, surrounded by 532 square kilometres of parks, forests and wetlands



Ottawa’s people are the secret to its success. They are diverse, entrepreneurial, highly educated and multilingual. Cosmopolitan Ottawa prides itself on its ethnic diversity. It continues to attract the best and brightest from all parts of the globe.

Ottawa boasts the highest number of residents with a post-secondary education in Canada, a bilingual rate of 44 per cent, and more engineers, scientists, and PhDs per capita than any other city in the country.

As of the 2011 National Household Survey, there were 204,445 immigrants living in Ottawa - Gatineau (Ontario part) (Ont. part  – 22.6 per cent of the total population. Of these, 16.0 per cent – 32,660 people in all – arrived between 2006 and 2011.

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

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

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

Countries of origin

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

Country of Origin Total Immigrant Population (2011) Immigrants Arriving 2006 – 2011
United Kingdom 17,990 800
China 16,185 2,540
Other places of birth in Africa 16,135
Other places of birth in Asia 14,030
Lebanon 9,800 1,255
India 9,145 1,585
United States 9,040 1,740
Philippines 7,410 2,530
Other places of birth in Europe 7,335
Haiti 6,200 2,220
Viet Nam 6,125 290
Other places of birth in Americas 5,745
Italy 5,495
Germany 4,270 145
Iran 4,180 810
Poland 4,160 95
Pakistan 3,680 625
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 3,045 50
Jamaica 2,940 105
Russian Federation 2,850 455
Egypt 2,810 700
Sri Lanka 2,800 525
Iraq 2,800 840
Bangladesh 2,490 495
Portugal 2,305
Romania 2,285 255
France 2,175 305
Netherlands 2,140
El Salvador 1,855
Ethiopia 1,800 405

‡ 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 582,955 64.0%
French 161,370 17.7%
Arabic 31,510 3.5%
Chinese, n.o.s.* 13,195 1.4%
Spanish 11,890 1.3%
Italian 10,400 1.1%
Mandarin 7,045 0.8%
Cantonese 6,800 0.7%
Somali 6,720 0.7%
German 6,450 0.7%

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


These are the religions with the most adherents in Ottawa.

Religion # of Adherents (2011)
Catholic 361,425
No religious affiliation 201,720
Other Christian 66,500
Muslim 58,590
Anglican 57,285
United Church 55,295
Christian Orthodox 17,610
Presbyterian 13,145
Hindu 11,995
Buddhist 11,735
Jewish 10,655
Baptist 10,580

Source: Statistics Canada (2011 National Household Survey)

Housing Information


Ottawa is a safe, clean city in which to raise a family, with a wide variety of neighbourhoods. It also offers a wide mix of houses and small and large apartment buildings.

Apartment hunters have a good range of choices, and local agencies assist with a variety of services specifically for immigrants. Rents are lower than Vancouver and Toronto, but higher than most other centres.

Average rents
The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in April 2013 was $922 and a two bedroom apartment was $1,130. The average monthly rent for a three bedroom apartment was $1,377.

Vacancy rate and availability
In Ottawa, the vacancy rate for one bedroom rental apartments was 4.3 per cent and for two bedroom apartments was 3 per cent. The vacancy rate of three bedroom rental apartments was 3.7 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 6.9 per cent for one bedroom apartments,  6.3 per cent for two bedroom apartments, and 8.2 per cent for three bedroom apartments.

Home purchase prices
In Ottawa, the average house price, in 2012, was $352,610.

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 agencies can help you find housing

English and French

Action Logement/ Action-Housing

Other access points:

Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre

Overbrook-Forbes Community Resource Centre

Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre

Lowertown Community Resource Centre

English only

Housing Help/ Aide Logement

These agencies offer advice specifically for immigrants:

Catholic Immigration Centre

OCISO – Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization



Ottawa has a small-town feel, but it also has a prosperous and growing economy. Ottawa is home to Canada’s Federal government, and has both provincial government offices and a municipal government.

Job search help

These web sites list jobs in Ottawa:

National Job Bank

Public Service Commission

Ontario Government Jobs

City of Ottawa

Private employment services may also be available

Business start-ups

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

Entrepreneurship Centre
Offers advice and counsel, seminars, online training, networking and other resources to entrepreneurs.

Government Services for Entrepreneurs
A collaboration of 43 government departments. Helps entrepreneurs to get regional information, advice and support, online and by phone.

Provides information on the government permits and licences businesses need to operate in Ottawa and other parts of Canada.

Business Assistance Program
Helps businesses provide services in English and French. Offers translation services, workshops and help recruiting bilingual staff.

The Ottawa Centre for Regional Innovation (OCRI)
delivers its economic development services through a unique partnership with the City of Ottawa to move Ottawa’s economy forward.

Entering the workforce

This organization helps immigrants evaluate foreign credentials

World Education Services Canada

Partners for Jobs (P4J)
An employment strategy developed by the City of Ottawa to help unemployed and underemployed Ottawa residents. P4J offers programs and services to help individuals prepare for, find and keep a job. Many of the activities offered through P4J are delivered in partnership with community agencies, training and education providers, private companies and not-for-profit organizations.

Employment Ontario and Youth Zone Jeunesse
Youth Zone Jeunesse offers job search, career planning and placement services for youth between the ages of 16 and 30.

These organizations help immigrants evaluate foreign credentials and enter the Ottawa workforce:

Algonquin College Of Applied Arts And Technology, Faculty Of Arts, Media And Design, Career And Academic Access Centre, Career And College Preparation, Job Readiness Training

Canada Business Development Bank Of Canada, Consulting Services To Small And Medium Enterprises

Service Canada, Human Resource Centre Canada, Ottawa Human Resource centres

Economic And Social Council Of Ottawa Carleton, Emploi-Cesoc

Jewish Family Services Of Ottawa, Jewish Family Employment Services

Lasi World Skills

National Capital Region, YMCA YWCA Employment, Enterprise And Newcomer Services

Neil Squire Society, Central Regional Office

Ontario. Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Labour Market and Training Division, Apprenticeship Client Services Unit

Ottawa Carleton Catholic School Board, Fresh Start Adult Business And Technology Programme

Ottawa Carleton Catholic School Board, St Nicholas Adult High School

Ottawa Carleton District School Board, Adult High School

Ottawa Centre For Research And Innovation, Entrepreneurship Centre

Ottawa Community Loan Fund

Vanier Community Service Centre, Employment Services And Practice Firm

Ottawa Women’s Training and Employment Network (OWTEN)

Ontario Labour Market Information Guide

Foreign-Trained Trades people

Hire Immigrants Ottawa



In recent years, Ottawa has recognized the importance of education in the world’s emerging knowledge economy. All sectors of the community have banded together to strengthen educational opportunities and interactions between academic institutions and businesses.

Ottawa also has schools for children and youth in two languages: an English public system and an English separate (Roman Catholic) system, and a French public and French Catholic system. Schools in all systems are free of charge. Some offer instruction in both English and French.

Most Ottawa schools also offer English as a Second Language classes. There are also special education programs for children with disabilities.

Universities and colleges in Ottawa

University of Ottawa

Carleton University

St. Paul University

Algonquin College

La Cité collégiale

Elementary and secondary schools (for children and youth)

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board - Resources for Immigrants

Ottawa-Carleton Catholic School Board

Private schools may also be available

Community Services


One of the City of Ottawa’s top priorities is to create “Healthy and Caring Communities.” The City funds many agencies that serve newcomers. It has a strong Equity and Diversity Policy to make sure the City’s workforce includes and welcomes people from all backgrounds. It also encourages everyone living in Ottawa, including immigrants, to take part in heritage and arts programs that honour their own culture.

The City of Ottawa has an immigration portal to assist potential immigrants and newcomers.

The Community Information Centre of Ottawa provides detailed, up-to-date, information on Ottawa services.

The City is also working with many other community partners to improve the social and economic integration of immigrants in Ottawa through the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP).

Language training

These organizations offer English language training:

Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization

National Capital Region YMCA YWCA, Employment, Enterprise And Newcomer Services, Language Assessment And Resource Centre

English Language Tutoring For The Ottawa Community

The Workplace Language Training Program

Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)

These organizations offer French language training:

Conseil Des Écoles Catholiques De Langue Française Du Centre Est, Éducation Permanente

Conseil Des Écoles Publiques De L'est De L'ontario, Éducation Permanente, École Des Adultes Le Carrefour

National Capital Region YMCA YWCA, Employment, Enterprise And Newcomer Services, Language Assessment And Resource Centre

Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada (CLIC)

Settlement help

These organizations provide all kinds of support to immigrants:

English settlement agencies

The Catholic Immigration Centre (CIC)

Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO)

Jewish Family Services (JFS)

Lebanese and Arab Social Services Association (LASSA)

Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO)

Jamaican (Ottawa) Community Association

Local Agencies Serving Immigrants (LASI)

YMCA/YWCA Newcomer centre

Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre (OCCSC)

Vietnamese Canadian Federation

Community Information Centre of Ottawa

Somali centre for Family Services

City for All Women Initiative

Coalition of New Canadians for Arts and Culture (CNCAC)
French Settlement Agencies

Conseil économique et social d'Ottawa-Carleton (CESOC)

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.

Immigrant stories

Maria’s story

Maria and her spouse arrived in Canada as refugee claimants. Maria immediately enrolled in full-time ESL classes as her first language was Spanish (she spoke very limited English).

One year later she began Housekeeping training, was one of the star students, and secured full-time employment at a local hotel. Her husband had also secured work, in construction, and their combined income enabled them to become self sufficient.

Emma’s story

Emma, a 25 year old single parent with a 2 year old child, came to Canada in 2009. She was determined to find a good job to support herself and her daughter. She participated in the Personal Support Worker (PSW) training, and secured two PSW on-call employment offers shortly after.

She now supports herself and her child in a career that she enjoys.





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