Holocaust Survivors: The Jewish Population of Canada: 2011 National Household Survey

Sponsor(s): Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA, The Claims Conference - The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

Principal Investigator(s): Charles Shahar

Study Dates: December, 2015 report based on 2011 Canadian National Household Survey

Key Findings:

In December, 2015, Charles Shahar issued three reports on Jewish Holocaust Survivors as part of the continuing analysis of Canadian Jewish demographics based upon the 2011 Canadian National Household Survey (which included questions on religious identification). One report summarized data on all Canadian Jewish survivors, while the second and third reports focused on Holocaust Survivors in Montreal and Toronto respectively.

All three reports are available for downloading.  


There are 17,300 Jewish Holocaust Survivors living in Canada comprising 28.2% of the country’s Jewish population of seniors who are 66+ years.

• In short, more than a quarter of Canada’s Jewish elderly are Survivors.

• The proportion of individuals who are often disabled is larger among Jewish Holocaust Survivors (30.9%) than among Jewish non-Survivors age 66+ (19.9%) and the total senior population of Canada age 66+ (22.7%).

• About a quarter (24.7%) of Jewish Canadian Survivors live below the poverty line -  an estimated 4,280 individuals.

• The level of poverty among Jewish Holocaust Survivors is almost twice that of Jewish seniors who are non-Survivors, and more than twice that of all Canadian seniors.

• The poverty rate among Jewish Survivors age 66 and above is 24.7%, compared to 12.6% among all Canadian seniors and a similar 12.0% of senior Jewish persons who are not Survivors.

• Poverty among Jewish Survivors has a complex relationship when age and gender are considered.

• First, Male Survivors have a much lower rate of poverty than females (18.5% and 30% respectively). There are an estimated 1,455 male Jewish Survivors nationally who live under the poverty line compared to an estimated 2,825 females.

• Second, age is not a factor related to increasing poverty as the age of the male Holocaust Survivor increases; 18.8% of male Survivors age 65-74, 18.4% of male Survivors 75-84 and 18.2% of male Survivors 85 and older are under the poverty line.

• Among females, however, increasing age means increasing poverty among Jewish survivors.  About a quarter (24.1%) of female Survivors 66-74 years are poor compared to 31.5% of those 75-84 years and 36.3% of those 85+ years.

• The segment of Survivors most likely to experience economic disadvantage is “females living alone”. Almost half (49.8%) of this group lives under the poverty line. Male Survivors living alone also have a very high poverty level, at 42.1%.

Montreal and Toronto

• The largest Survivor population is located in the Toronto metropolitan area, with 8,930 individuals,or 51.6% of the total Survivor population in Canada. Montreal has 5,795 Survivors, or about a third (33.5%) of the national Survivor population.

• Combined, Montreal and Toronto account for just over 85% of all Canadian Jewish Survivors.

The Montreal and Toronto monographs replicate the analysis of the report on Jewish Canadian Holocaust Survivors, with the focus on the two major Jewish communities in Canada as opposed to national patterns.  

Tables 11A and 11B provide estimates of the number of Holocaust survivors in Canada by Canadian Province and then by Census Metropolitan Area.  

Study Notes:

DataBank users should carefully read the Appendices to these reports.  The Appendices review "Methodological Considerations," "The Revised Jewish Definition," "The Definition of Holocaust Survivors," and the "Low-Income Cut-offs."

Methodological issues are important to review since the National Household Survey did not include a specific question for respondents on whether they had been Holocaust Survivors, but, rather, had to estimate Holocaust Survivor status based upon Claims Conference guidelines and internal National Household Survey data on religion, date of migration to Canada and country of emigration.

Language: English