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Settling in Canada Durham PROFILE

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Durham Region is located right next to Toronto, offering easy access to Canada’s largest city without the chaos of downtown living.

Durham Region

Durham Region Facts

Durham Region website

Population: 608,125 (2011)

Location — Central Canada
Immediately east of Toronto within the Greater Toronto Area.

Warm humid summers, cold and snowy winters.

Durham Region is located right next to Toronto, offering easy access to Canada’s largest city without the chaos of downtown living. 

Durham Region is made up of eight area municipalities: Ajax, Brock, Clarington, Oshawa, Pickering, Scugog, Uxbridge, and Whitby. It offers a mix of high-quality residential communities, planned cities and towns, rolling countryside, lakes and streams. Our residents enjoy affordable housing, higher than average incomes and a high standard of living.

Durham Region Features:

  • Easy freeway and commuter train access to the entire Greater Toronto Area
  • A skilled workforce, access to Canadian and US markets, and low business operating costs
  • A growing immigrant community
  • Many places of worship, including churches, madira, mosques, synagogues and temples
  • A wide range of new and traditional housing options
  • A vibrant arts and cultural sector
  • A rich agricultural sector, with farmers’ markets and pick-your-own farms
  • Three lakes, 350 km of recreational trails, exceptional parks, golf and ski facilities


Durham Region Population

Durham Region was the original home of several First Nations and early European settlers. But its real growth began in the mid-1900s. Many British and European immigrants came to work in local factories, foundries and businesses.

By the late 1900s immigrants began arriving from the Middle East, East Asia and South America, the Caribbean and Central America. Most recent immigrants live in Durham Region’s southern towns and cities: Ajax, Pickering, Whitby and Oshawa.

As of the 2011 National Household Survey, there were 125,845 immigrants living in Durham — 20.9 per cent of the total population. Of these, 7.1 per cent — 8,950 people in all — arrived between 2006 and 2011.

Countries of origin
United Kingdom, Jamaica, Philippines, Guyana, India, Trinidad and Tobago, Other places of birth in Americas, Pakistan, Other places of birth in Europe, Sri Lanka.

First languages spoken
English, French, Italian, Tagalog (Pilipino, Filipino), Urdu.

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

Countries of Origin

These are the 30 most common birthplaces of immigrants to Durham Region.

Country of Origin Total Immigrant Population
Immigrants Arriving
2006 – 2011
United Kingdom 22,280 630
Jamaica 10,325 650
Philippines 7,725 1,100
Guyana 7,020 340
India 6,435 995
Trinidad and Tobago 5,720
Other Places of Birth in Americas 5,450
Pakistan 4,415 470
Other Places of Birth in Europe 4,125
Sri Lanka 4,085 280
Italy 3,955
United States 3,860 625
Poland 3,345 50
Germany 3,340 80
Other Places of Birth in Asia 2,855
Netherlands 2,640
Other Places of Birth in Africa 2,560
China 2,490 340
Portugal 1,920
Afghanistan 1,830 250
Greece 1,685
Romania 1,295 90
Ireland, Republic of 1,235
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 1,225 0
Egypt 935 210
Korea, South 885
Hungary 840
Iran 830 45
Viet Nam 785 60
South Africa, Republic of 730 65

‡ 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 the Region.

Mother Tongue Number (2011) % of Population (2011)
English 517,265 85.6%
French 12,015 2.0%
Italian 6,850 1.1%
Tagalog (Pilipino, Filipino) 6,165 1.0%
Urdu 5,775 1.0%
Polish 4,825 0.8%
Spanish 4,740 0.8%
German 4,635 0.8%
Tamil 3,765 0.6%
Arabic 3,710 0.6%

Source: Statistics Canada (2011 Census of Canada)


These are the religions with the most adherents in Durham Region.

Religion # of Adherents (2011)
Catholic 173,915
No Religious Affiliation 152,020
United Church 64,240
Other Christian 62,695
Anglican 46,015
Muslim 18,635
Pentecostal 16,850
Presbyterian 15,860
Baptist 13,975
Hindu 12,830
Christian Orthodox 12,055
Lutheran 4,785

Source: Statistics Canada (2011 National Household Survey)

Housing Information

Durham Region Housing Information

Durham Region offers a wide mix of ownership and rental housing, including old and new houses, townhouses and apartments. Prices are considerably lower than nearby Toronto.

Durham Region also offers some subsidized rental and co-op housing.

The housing data below is for Oshawa.

Average rents
The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in April 2013 was $836 and a two bedroom apartment was $943. The average monthly rent for a three bedroom apartment was $1,072.

Vacancy rate and availability
In Durham, the vacancy rate for one bedroom rental apartments was 1.8 per cent and for two bedroom apartments was 1.6 per cent. The vacancy rate of three bedroom rental apartments was 0.6 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 3.2 per cent for one bedroom apartments, 3 per cent for two bedroom apartments, and 1.8 per cent for three bedroom apartments.

Home purchase prices
In Durham, the average house price, in 2012, was $333,201.

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:

Community Development Council Durham

Region of Durham Housing Services

These organizations can give you information on social housing:

Durham Access to Social Housing

Rent-Geared-to-Income Assistance

Special Needs Housing

Alternative Housing

The Co-Operative Housing Federation of Canada — Durham Region


Durham Region Employment

Durham Region’s economy has shifted gears. Once heavily reliant on automotive manufacturing, the labour market is now much more diverse. Major employers now include Ontario Power Generation, municipal and federal government offices, health services and education.

Small and medium businesses are a vital part of Durham’s economy, accounting for over 99 per cent of all employers.

Durham Region’s Immigration Portal
Describes local employers and the professions and trades most in demand, now and in the future.

Job Search Help

These web sites can help you find a job in Durham Region:

Durham Region Employment Network

Durham Region Unemployed Help Centre

Private employment services may also be available.

Business Start-ups

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

Durham Region Local Training Board

Durham Business

Durham Region Chamber of Commerce and Boards of Trade Listing

Business Advisory Centre Durham

Entering the Workforce

This organization helps immigrants evaluate foreign credentials

World Education Services Canada


Durham Region Education

Durham Region is home to Durham College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, offering skills-training to thousands of full- and part-time students and apprentices. The region also offers a wide range of private business, computer and other skills-training colleges.

For children and youth, there are six provincially-funded school systems in Durham Region providing free education from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Students in secondary schools may take courses in English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development. There are also special education classes for students with learning difficulties.

There are also a variety of private and independent schools. Fees are charged to attend these schools.

Universities and Colleges in Durham Region:

Durham College

Trent University

Elementary and Secondary Schools (for Children and Youth)

Durham District School Board (DDSB)

Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB)

Conseil scolaire de district du Centre Sud-Ouest

Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud

Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board

Private schools may also be available.

Community Services

Durham Region Community Services

Durham Region has brought together all the information newcomers need to settle in its Durham Community Immigration Portal

The portal provides comprehensive and up-to-date information and services for newcomers to the region, including success stories from recent newcomers, a local job aggregator, upcoming community events, regional housing statistics and links to existing community-based websites.

Settlement Help

These organizations provide all kinds of support to immigrants:

Immigration Portal

Welcome Centre Immigrant Services (Ajax and Pickering)

Language Training

Bridging Programs

Community Development Council of Durham

Interfaith Immigrant Support Group

Local Diversity & Immigration Partnership Council

Durham Chinese Cultural Centre

Tamil Cultural and Academic Society of Durham

Northern Portugal Cultural Centre

Indo-Canadian Cultural Association of Durham Inc.

Women's Multi Cultural Centre

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.

These websites provide information on public transit, child care and government support programs.

Map Durham (search for businesses, school, community facilities)

Durham Region Transit

Go Transit

Durham Region Health Department

United Way Information Durham

Best Start in DurhamigotRegion (Child Care)

Immigrants’ Stories

Ana Alcayde’s Story

I’m Ana Alcayde from the Philippines. I arrived here in Canada in August 2009. My target occupation here in Canada is to work in any finance related job. It took me nine months to get a job related to my work experience. I’m now working as Finance assistant in Manulife Financial.

While in the Philippines, I attended Canadian Immigration Integration program (CIIP). Just after the orientation I began connecting with the colleges and settlement agencies to which CIIP referred us.

One of the challenges faced by newcomers is lack of Canadian work experience. Once I arrived in Canada, I focused on how to get a mentor or to get in the internship program. I registered in Enhanced Language Training Program of Durham Continuing Education (DCE). It’s a four month program which consists of 2 months in classroom training and 2 months work placement. I got my work placement with the Ministry of Revenue (MOR) where I got to connect with other internationally trained immigrants. When my placement was about to end, I started receiving calls from potential employers.

I had my credentials assessed and pre-registered online in Career bridge. In less than a month after I was given access, I applied for an internship which matches my background. I received an invitation for an interview. I was interviewed by the Human resource personnel and was able to apply those skills I learned from CIIP and DCE. The next interview was with the hiring manager. The questions were more work related and the last was with the AVP.

It would be great for newcomers to have a positive outlook. It’s not an easy task to find a job.

Ligaya “Joy” Catu’s Story

My life has been a total blessing. I arrived here on September 24, 2006 with high hopes that my life would be a lot better. My first few months were exciting, for I came across a lot of people, different traditions and beliefs. Being here in Canada expanded the horizons of my dreams. I know it will not be easy but I am willing to take the road ahead and find my life as I dreamed of it.

It has been tough for me though to achieve my goals. I worked under the Live-in Caregiver Program for 3 years. My journey was not easy, very exhausting. When I obtained my open work permit and eventually my Permanent Residency I juggled my time between 3 jobs and school. I worked for Tim Hortons, The Great Canadian Bagel, Chicken Joy and at the same time attended school. I often missed my stop because I slept in the bus. All these struggles, motivated me to go ahead and be more patient, for I see my dreams down the road.

It was in September 2009 when I saw the advertisement about the ELT (Enhanced Language Training) Program of Durham Continuing Education in the newspaper. I inquired and learned that the program will help you learn more about the culture adjustment and language techniques designed for landed immigrants who are internationally trained professionals in their respective countries. In addition to that, the program will help you find a placement job that will help you gain Canadian experience in whatever field you are in.

Currently, I am working as a clinical research study coordinator at Urotec at Taunton Health Center in Oshawa. I was fortunate to be offered this opportunity while I was doing my placement job at the Laboratory Department at Taunton Health Center. I was referred by Durham Continuing Education through the help of the ELT Program Coordinator who is willing to work hard together with the rest of the staff to help internationally trained professionals like me polish my skills through continuing education programs.

Canada has a lot to offer, it is upon us new immigrants to discover what is available for us, grab it and make the most of it. That’s what I did… I am still in the process of achieving my dream as a licensed medical laboratory technologist here in Canada, I am still in school…I am so close to seeing the dawn…

To all my fellow immigrants, dream on…. And you will see!






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