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Canadian Attitudes Toward Immigration and Their Impacts

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A recent survey by the Environics Institute in collaboration with the Century Initiative showed that 44% of Canadians believe there is excessive immigration to Canada, a notable increase from 27% last year. This sentiment shift comes at a time when Canada’s population has crossed 40 million, with over a million new residents added last year, 98% of which was driven by immigration.

Key Survey Findings:

  • 51% disagreed that there is too much immigration, the lowest figure since 1998.
  • 69% disagreed with the statement last year, marking the highest level ever recorded.
  • 47% of participants disagreed with the notion that Canada requires immigrants to grow its population, a jump from 38% the previous year.

Main Concerns Surrounding Immigration

The main concerns surrounding increased immigration revolve around the potential driving up of housing prices, economic effects, and contribution to overpopulation. The housing market’s rising costs and issues surrounding affordability seem to be at the heart of this changing attitude.

Keith Neuman, the survey’s author, commented on the changing perspective, stating, “[…] a significant number of Canadians are now questioning the number of immigrants being accepted.” He emphasized that concerns have increased regarding Canada’s ability to integrate newcomers, especially given current challenges.

Government’s Stance on Immigration

Amidst these changing attitudes, Immigration Minister Marc Miller is scheduled to announce new targets for annual permanent residents. In 2022, the Trudeau government aimed to welcome a record 485,000 permanent residents in 2023 and 500,000 in 2025. Despite growing concerns, Minister Miller has previously mentioned that he might maintain or even increase these targets, emphasizing the significant need for newcomers.

Historical Context:

  • For nearly 20 years, the majority of Canadians did not believe the country was accepting excessive immigrants.
  • Recently, this trend has shifted due to factors like record population growth, high living costs, and soaring housing prices.

Government’s Response and Future Actions

The Trudeau administration has consistently highlighted the importance of immigration for the country’s growth and economic stability. Given the current sentiments and concerns around housing and economic challenges, it’s expected that the government will engage in a comprehensive review of its immigration policies and targets.

Addressing Public Concerns

With the change in public sentiment, it is crucial for the government to engage in dialogues with citizens to understand and address their concerns. Proposed steps could include:

  • Organizing town hall meetings to discuss and elucidate immigration’s economic and social benefits.
  • Conducting more in-depth surveys to gauge regional concerns and tailor solutions accordingly.
  • Collaborating with local governments to ensure smoother integration of newcomers into communities.

Immigrant Departure Trends

A recent study has highlighted a concerning trend in which a significant number of immigrants who acquired permanent residence in Canada between 1982 and 2018 chose to leave the country between 2016 and 2019.

Notable Data Points:

  • On average, 0.9% of individuals who received permanent residence after 1982 left Canada annually. In 2019, this number surged to 1.18%, a 31% increase above the average.
  • In 2017, the departure rate increased by 43% from the previous year, representing nearly 60,000 departures.
  • In 2019, about 67,000 immigrants left Canada.

Looking Ahead

Immigration has historically been a crucial component in bolstering Canada’s economy. However, with the challenges of inflation and the housing crisis, there are increasing calls for clarity from the federal government about accommodating newcomers in the coming years.

This week, the government is set to announce its annual Immigration Levels Plan. Immigration Minister Marc Miller will be sharing his first plan since assuming his role amidst a unique set of challenges, including an ongoing housing crisis that some economists argue might be exacerbated by current immigration targets.

For a detailed breakdown of the survey results, visit Environics Institute’s official site.

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