Canadians are now more supportive of record-breaking immigration and the country’s role in welcoming refugees from throughout the world than they have been in decades reveals an Environics Institute survey.
“Even as the country is now taking in more than 400,000 newcomers each year, seven in 10 Canadians express support for current immigration levels, the largest majority recorded on Environics surveys in 45 years,” notes Environics.
The survey’s results come as Canada is poised to welcome 463,860 new permanent residents by the end of this year based on the trend during the first eight months.
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By the end of August, Canada had already welcomed 309,240 new permanent residents – an average of 38,655 per month.
Ottawa’s current Immigration Levels Plan for 2022-2024 sets out immigration targets of 431,645 new permanent residents for this year, 447,055 next year, and 451,000 in 2024.
That means Canada is likely to beat its immigration target for this year by 32,215 new permanent residents, or almost 7.5 per cent, if the current trend continues for the rest of the year.
At 463,860 new permanent residents, Canada’s rate of immigration would be even higher than the ambitious target set for next year and even 2024, beating the target set for two years from now by more than 2.8 per cent.
Last month, two insiders within the ruling Liberal Party of Canada called for much higher immigration to the country in an open letter published in The Financial Post.
Former Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains and his former chief of staff in 2016 and 2017, Elder C. Marques, recommended in that letter that Canada become even more ambitious with its immigration targets.
“Canada deserves praise for our approach to immigration levels,” the two wrote in their letter in
The Financial Post. “But while the absolute numbers may seem high, they actually need to be higher in light of Canada’s population and demographic challenges.
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“In the early 1910s, a much-smaller Canada welcomed similar annual absolute numbers as today. Raising immigration targets responsibly and effectively will require more investments in infrastructure, housing, transit and resettlement services across the entire country, and that means better federal-provincial collaboration.”
Now retired from politics since last year, Bains is currently vice-chair of global investment banking for CIBC. During his time as a federal Cabinet minister, Bains worked closely with the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, a group that advocated raising Canada’s annual immigration target to 450,000 people a year.
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Elders, now a partner at the law practice of Blake, Cassels & Graydon, was also a senior advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a bit more than two years from 2017 through to 2019 and later chief of staff to the minister of finance in the Liberal government prior to returning to private practice.
Their view on immigration is one shared by most Canadians, the Environics survey reveals.
”Public support for immigration is grounded in part in the belief that it supports the country’s economy, and the public consensus around this view has strengthened over the past year,” reveals the Environics survey.
“More than eight in 10 now strongly, at 50 per cent, or somewhat, at 35 per cent, agree that immigration has a positive impact on the Canadian economy, up five percentage points since 2021 and now at its highest level since the question was first asked.”
Albertans Most Likely To Question Legitimacy Of Refugees In Canada
Only roughly one in 10 Canadians hold the view that immigration provides no economic benefit to the country.
“For much of the past 35 years, Canadians have tended to believe that many claiming to be refugees are not in fact legitimate, and while this view has diminished over time the public continues to be somewhat divided on this question,” reports Environics.
“Just over one in three now strongly, at 15 per cent, or somewhat, at 21 per cent, agree … that ‘many people claiming to be refugees are not real refugees],” notes Environics.
The biggest bones of contention Canadians have with immigration is not the level of immigration but the ability of those immigrants to integrate into Canadian society and its culture – and the legitimacy of those claiming refugee status.
“Across the country, concerns about the legitimacy of refugees have increased noticeably in Atlantic Canada … up eight points since 2021, and to a lesser extent in Quebec … up four percentage points and Ontario … up percentage points, while declining in B.C., down six percentage points.”
Albertans are the most likely to hold the view that many refugees are not “real refugees,” the survey reveals.