It was last week when Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced a gradual increase in the number of immigrants admitted into Canada which would culminate to 340,000 by 2020, over that period, close to a million immigrants will have come in.
However, results from a recent poll suggests that Canadians are beginning to view immigrants a little more critically.
This survey was commissioned by the federal government and is carried out annually as part of its immigration planning process.
About 27 per cent of the survey’s 2,503 respondents said they felt that number is too high — an increase of four percentage points over the responses to the same question in the 2016 survey, which had only about 1,600 respondents.
The 2017 survey was conducted between July 31 and Aug. 30, while the 2016 survey — used by the department as a point of comparison in their analysis — surveyed 1,598 people with a margin of error of 2.45 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
It should be pointed out that the irregular asylum seekers crossing in illegally from across the US was happening.
The media was reporting daily on the surge of Haitian and other asylum seekers and the Opposition Conservatives warned that being lax about our asylum policy risked draining away crucial support for immigration.
To understand just how to what degree Canadians have shifted in their attitude toward immigration here’s one clue, in 2005-06, 1,598 Canadians were asked about the positive impact of immigration on a national and local level. Seventy-two per cent agreed there was one for Canada, while 58 per cent saw a personal benefit. When the question was repeated this year, only 70 per cent saw a positive national effect, while 56 per cent believed there was a positive impact on them personally.
The poll suggests attitudes towards refugee resettlement in Canada have also dampened in the last year.
When asked which of the three main immigration categories should grow, 25 per cent of respondents singled out the refugee category, down from 29 per cent in 2016.
Thirty-two per cent also told pollsters in 2017 that too many refugees were coming to Canada, up from 30 per cent in 2016.
The 2017 poll also asked respondents about their comfort levels around people of different races and religions, a question that was also asked in 2005-06.
This year, 89 per cent said they were comfortable around people of a different race, down from 94 per cent in 2005-2006.
When asked if they felt comfortable in social situations with people from a different religion, 82 per cent said yes, down from 88 per cent the last time the question was asked.
While politicians make the economic case for bringing in more immigrants, everyday Canadians are taking social integration and comfort around immigrants into consideration. Perhaps that is something policy makers study a little more closely, if not, support for immigration will force all political parties to either turn anti-immigration or simply scale back the numbers while still voicing support for immigration. – CINEWS