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Shifting Public Opinion and Its Impact on Canadian Immigration Policies

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A recent survey reveals a growing number of Canadians now believe that the nation’s immigration levels are too high, fueling concerns about the potential impact on housing affordability. This marks a significant shift in public sentiment, as support for immigration remained at an all-time high just last year, capping a rising trend that stretched back over three decades.

According to Environics, Canadians are still more likely to disagree than agree that immigration levels are too high. However, the gap between these opposing views has substantially decreased over the past 12 months – from 42 percentage points to just seven. Notably, this change in perception is prevalent across various population segments, particularly in Ontario and British Columbia, as well as among top income earners and first-generation Canadians.

This shift in perspective coincides with growing anxiety surrounding housing costs and economic conditions. The survey cites inflation, the cost of living, housing affordability, and interest rates as the top issues facing Canada presently. In fact, housing concerns rank second only to inflation among Canadian voters’ list of priorities.

From 2020 to September 2021, there has been a sharp rise in the proportion of Canadians who think the country should admit fewer immigrants – increasing from 40% to 53%. This comes as Canada’s population recently surpassed 40 million people in 2023. In 2022 alone, more than one million people were added to this number, with Statistics Canada reporting that 98% of this growth resulted from net international migration.

The federal government is now facing tough decisions about whether its current immigration targets can be maintained amid what many experts have called a housing crisis. In previous years, Ottawa aimed to admit 500,000 permanent residents annually by 2025. It now remains to be seen if this target will be maintained when Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller releases the Immigration Levels Plan on Wednesday. In addition, Miller is expected to unveil the Strategic Immigration Review report and a plan to improve Canada’s immigration system on Tuesday.

IMMIGRANTS STILL VALUED

Environics’ research highlights a consistent perspective among Canadians regarding the value of immigrants and their contributions to local communities and the nation as a whole.

Many Canadians express appreciation for the presence of immigrants in their communities, acknowledging the advantages arising from cultural diversity, their economic contributions, and job creation. The report indicates that immigration is responsible for nearly all net labor force growth in Canada.

According to the study, most individuals do not view immigrants as having detrimental effects on their communities. Even among those who do have concerns, housing issues are not a primary grievance. This indicates that recent worries about immigration’s impact on housing stem more from national and regional media narratives surrounding a housing crisis than local developments or first-hand experiences.

METHODOLOGY

The Focus Canada survey methodology involves phone interviews conducted over landlines and cell phones with a sample of 2,002 Canadians between September 4 and 17, 2023. With this sample size, the results offer an accuracy margin of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points for 19 out of 20 samples.

Conclusion

The noticeable shift in Canadian public opinion regarding immigration levels raises important questions about possible changes in government policies. As housing concerns and economic pessimism continue to gain momentum among Canadians, the government will have to address these issues while weighing the benefits and drawbacks of their existing immigration targets.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, exclusively written and published by IntraSource. The published information is sourced from various trusted platforms, such as news agencies and online media, mainly the Government of Canada and Canadian online media/websites, and should not be considered as legal or professional advice. IRCC’s requirements may change, so consult a lawyer/s and receive professional advice before making decisions or applications.

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