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Half of all Canadians say there are too many immigrants now: poll – best2daynews

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Concerns over immigration are primarily about the economy rather than fears about immigrants changing the social fabric of Canada, the poll suggests

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High immigration levels have traditionally enjoyed multi-partisan support in Canada, but half of all people now say that there are too many newcomers, according to a new poll.

The survey conducted for the Association for Canadian Studies and the Metropolis Institute found 50 per cent of Canadians agree that there are too many immigrants coming into Canada — a number that has more than doubled since January 2023 but has remained consistent across polls conducted in the past six months.

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Last January, only 21 per cent of Canadians said there were too many immigrants in the country, according to a government survey. They were outnumbered by the 24 per cent of Canadians who believed there were too few newcomers to Canada.

“This concern about immigration has traction and certainly it constitutes a challenge to this consensus…. This suggests it’s a departure from what we’ve seen in the previous decade,” said Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies and the Metropolis Institute.

The polling, done by Leger, comes at a time of widespread consternation over the effect high levels of immigration are having on housing costs. In 2022, Canada brought in around one million new temporary and permanent immigrants, boosting our population over 40 million. In November 2023, the Liberal government announced it would cap Canada’s annual immigrant intake at 500,000, starting in 2026.

Thirty-nine per cent of those who believe there is too much immigration in Canada believe immigrants are making the housing situation worse, while a further 21 per cent believe immigrants are “draining the system.”

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“They’re all rooted in this idea that our economy is challenged at supporting this number of immigrants, whether it’s housing or services, or so forth — at least for people who feel there are too many,” said Jedwab.

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Among those who believe Canada needs more immigration, not less — a group comprising about seven per cent of the population — 37 per cent say immigrants are needed to fill job vacancies and 27 per cent say the country needs newcomers to prevent population decline. (Canada’s birthrate of 1.33 children per woman is at the lowest point in history.)

“There’s definitely a significant part of the population that has concerns about the economy and another part of the population that may have concerns about the economy, but still maintains immigration is the answer,” Jedwab said.

But it appears that fears about immigrants changing the social fabric of Canada aren’t widely held.

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Just 10 per cent of Canadians who think there is too much immigration say their concern is that Canadians will become “a minority” in their own country. Only eight per cent say new immigrants don’t adhere to Canadian values and just four per cent believe that immigration is bringing criminals to the country. Eighteen per cent worry that immigrants are taking jobs from Canadians.

“It’s really more rooted in the economy and our capacity to support this number of immigrants with available services,” said Jedwab.

There are also similar levels of concern about immigration among white and non-white Canadians. Fifty-one per cent of white Canadians agree there is too much immigration, just four percentage points higher than the proportion of the non-white population that holds that view.

Maritimers are the most immigration averse out of all the provinces.

Fifty-nine per cent of New Brunswickers and 56 per cent of Nova Scotians believe too many immigrants are coming into the country. They’re followed by British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan, where 53 per cent of people say there are too many immigrants. About 50 per cent of Albertans agree, as do 46 per cent of Manitobans and 44 per cent of Quebecers.

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There are also some income and gender divides when it comes to views on immigration, particularly when it comes to the kind of immigrants Canada is allowing into the country. Canadians earning less than $40,000 per year are the most likely (57 per cent) to believe immigration levels are too high, while just 46 per cent of those with an income of more than $100,000 agree.

In terms of Canada’s immigration strategy, less than 10 per cent of those who feel there are too many immigrants rank highly the importance of taking in refugees. Instead, 59 per cent say that Canada’s focus should be on importing skilled workers. Those who believe Canada’s immigration numbers are about right tend to favour family reunification (40 per cent) and refugees (22 per cent), while still believing (38 per cent) that skilled workers are important.

Support for temporary foreign workers and international students are low across the board. Only nine per cent of Canadians who think there are too many immigrants and nine per cent who think there are not enough say temporary foreign workers should be prioritized; for international students, the number is 10 per cent each.

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Women, at 18 per cent, are more likely than men (11 per cent) to favour refugees, while men (53 per cent) are more likely to favour skilled workers than women (42 per cent).

The poll was conducted between Feb. 23 and 26 with a sample of 1,590 Canadians. A margin of error cannot be associated with a non-probability sample in a panel survey. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of 1,590 respondents would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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