How multilingualism benefits Canada – by Ashani Ponnamperuma, Research and Partnerships Specialist, TRIEC.


In today’s diverse society, multilingualism is becoming increasingly important. This morning’s Census release shows that 7.6 million Canadians speak languages other than English or French in the home. For perspective, this is greater than the entire population of the GTA.

The Census reports that 93.4% of people are proficient in one of the official languages (English or French). However, with 271,845 new immigrants calling Canada home since 2016 alone, “other” languages are becoming more and more significant. The most commonly spoken immigrant languages in Canada are Mandarin (641,100 people), Cantonese (594,705 people), Punjabi (568,375 people), Spanish (553,495 people), Tagalog (Filipino – 525,375 people) and Arabic (514,200 people). Reflecting the overall immigration trend, the census reported a decline in the number of people speaking European languages.

In the workplace, multilingualism allows us to effectively communicate to stakeholders and contributes to the cultural diversity desired by many international businesses. Native speakers can help improve communication with foreign markets and make sure the organization is aware of, and considers potential cultural nuances. Likewise, studies show consumers are 82% less likely to purchase from an organization if a website is not in their native language. Meanwhile, multilingual employees increase creativity, and are more likely to outperform people who are not multilingual in the workplace.

At TRIEC we are proud that our workforce reflects the cultural and linguistic diversity of Canada – our staff members speak on average more than two languages each!

Given Canada’s constantly changing linguistic landscape, it is essential for businesses to have employees who are competent in cross-cultural communication and able to work collaboratively in cross-cultural teams.

For an opportunity to enhance your cross cultural communication skills consider becoming a mentor through the TRIEC Mentoring Partnership.