New Survey Data Suggests Canadians Remain Positive About Immigration and Refugees
According to the results of a recent survey conducted by the Environics Institute, most Canadians don’t see immigration and refugees as a pressing national issue.
The survey was previously conducted six months ago, in October of 2018, where 5% of Canadians answered “immigration and refugees” when asked what the most pressing problem facing Canada was.
As of April 2019, that number has dropped to 3% of Canadians. All responses were unprompted, with no options given and only a single answer accepted.
Meanwhile, the economy remains a significant issue on the minds of Canadians, with 22% of respondents saying they feel it is a serious issue in the country, up from 19% last October.
According to the survey, nearly 60% of respondents disagree with the statement, “Overall, there is too much immigration in Canada.” Nearly 80% agree that immigration brings positive economic impacts.
The survey delves into responses along partisan lines, as well as geographic location. BC and Atlantic Canada remain big supporters of immigration, and those who support the Federal Conservative Party or People’s Party of Canada are most likely to feel immigration levels are too high—though even then, there’s an admission that levels are lower than what they were.
However, the question of immigrants adopting Canadian values remains split almost evenly, 51% of Canadians agreeing and 42% disagreeing. Integration clearly remains an issue for many in the country, and could be a contributing factor to anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiments.
Canada’s attitudes have, historically, been remarkably welcoming, despite events such as the Komagata Maru Incident and the country turning away Jewish refugees on the MS St. Louis in 1939. It is heartening to see that the country remains committed to this attitude, but there are clear signs that more can be done to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for newcomers.
This survey also flies in the face of very public anti-immigration attitudes from major politicians. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been vocal in describing the asylum seeker situation in Ontario (and indeed Canada) as a “crisis,” despite refugee claims remaining in line with previous years and irregular border crossings dropping to their lowest numbers since 2017.
The numbers simply don’t lie. Canadians have no real issues with immigration and refugees. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for these groups to be scapegoated. Responsible and informed politics should be promoted and practiced by all politicians, mainly to avoid unintentionally reinforcing stereotypes and biases, resulting in the emergence of extremist groups and the targeting of vulnerable populations.