the CanadaVisa Team - 25 October, 2016
Canada, it seems, is going against the grain when it comes to how its citizens view immigration policy. The anti-immigrant sentiment that has come to the fore in other regions of the world, notably in the United States and in parts of Europe, is being rejected by Canada, where eight in 10 people still believe that immigration is good for the country’s economy.
A new study, released today, also finds that most Canadians disagree that immigration levels are too high, while a growing portion of the Canadian population are confident that immigration controls are effective in keeping criminals out of the country.
The data for this study comes from a joint survey by the Environics Institute and Canadian Race Relations Foundation, conducted between October 3 and 16.
“Is growing international xenophobia and racism catching hold in Canada or emboldening Canadians to more explicitly express previously suppressed politically incorrect views?” asks the study. “The results of the latest Focus Canada survey of Canadian public opinion confirm the answer is no.”
Environics has been involved in surveying Canadian opinion about attitudes to immigration for four decades. This latest study found that fewer Canadians today express concern about immigrants not adopting “Canadian values,” the lowest ever recorded in the last two decades. Nine out of 10 said someone born elsewhere is just as likely to be a good citizen as someone born here.
This comes at a time when certain opposition politicians in Canada, including current and prospective party leaders, have proposed policies designed to safeguard "Canadian values" from perceived threats. Kellie Leitch and Steven Blaney, two candidates for leadership of the federal Conservative Party, have largely staked their candidacy on these proposals, while Coalition Avenir Québec leader Françoic Legault has been vocal in his support of lower immigration levels due to a perceived threat to existing values.
The public at large, it would appear, do not share these sentiments, and governments in place at the federal and provincial levels (including Quebec) have called for higher immigration levels.
Most Canadians “continue to believe that immigration is good for the economy, and there is growing confidence in the country’s ability to manage refugees and potential criminal elements,” states the study. Most people don’t think immigration increases crime rates, and a dwindling share believe refugee claimants are not legitimate. Although 36 per cent of the 2,000 respondents said Canada was taking in too many Syrians resulting from the ongoing refugee crisis, their primary concern was over Canada's ability to support them after arrival and how it might divert resources from other government projects, rather than fear of newcomers failing to fit in or posing a security threat.
The findings come as Immigration Minister John McCallum is set to announce a bold new immigration plan in the near future. Minister McCallum has gone on record stating that he wishes to "substantially increase" overall immigration levels, while last week a government advisory group called for massive increases in immigration to Canada.