Canadians Becoming More Nervous About Immigration

Four in Ten (44%, +8) Believe There are Too Many Immigrants in Canada; Majority (57%, +5) Say It has Placed Too Much Pressure on Public Services

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  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, Jan 4, 2019 — Canadians are becoming more nervous about immigration in Canada, with a growing sense that it has placed too much pressure on public services and that it is causing Canada to change in ways they don’t like, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News. Immigration is top of mind for many in Canada, particularly as migrants continue to cross illegally into Canada and governments spar over who is to bear the cost of processing these refugees. In fact, six in ten (59%) Canadians agree (32% strongly/28% somewhat) that the government is hiding the true cost of immigration to taxpayers and society.

While more continue to believe that immigration has been positive (39%), not negative (32%) for Canada (24% neutral; 6% don’t know), some attitudes have become more negative immigration over the past 18 months:

  • Six in ten (57%) agree (27% strongly/30% somewhat) that immigration has placed too much pressure on public services in Canada (for example, health, transport, educational services), up 5 points since mid 2017.
  • Half (48%) agree (25% strongly/23% somewhat) that immigration is causing Canada to change in ways that they don’t like, up 7 points.
  • Four in ten (44%) agree (22% strongly/22% somewhat) that there are too many immigrants in Canada, up 8 points.
  • Only 46% agree (15% strongly/30% somewhat) that immigrants make Canada a more interesting place to live, down 3 points.

Immigration is one of the top issues concerning citizens worldwide, and Canadians are not immune to some of the anti-immigrant sentiment that is held by many. For example, a majority (55%) agree (30% strongly/25% somewhat) that they would like to see tighter border controls that allow fewer immigrants into Canada. A similar proportion (54%) agrees (28% strongly/26% somewhat) that Canada is too welcoming to immigrants.

Many Canadians are also unsure of the impact that immigration has on the economy and job market. Four in ten (40%) agree (20% strongly/20% somewhat) that immigration has made it more difficult for Canadian people to get jobs, and fewer than half (45%) agree (13% strongly/32% somewhat) that immigration is good for the economy of Canada. Perhaps as a result, a majority (53%) agree (22% strongly/32% somewhat) that priority should be given to immigrants with higher education and qualifications who can fill shortages among certain professions in Canada.

Immigration can be a difficult discussion to have in a nation of immigrants, and many appear to think that political correctness can get in the way of that discussion. Four in ten (38%) agree (16% strongly/22% somewhat) that politicians, media outlets and others in Canada who have spoken out in opposition to immigration have been treated unfairly, compared to only 18% who disagree (7% strongly/11% somewhat) with this potion. Most (43%) neither agree nor disagree.

Focusing specifically on refugees, many are not convinced of the motives of those seeking to live in Canada:

  • Half (48%) agree (20% strongly/28% somewhat) that there are terrorists pretending to be refugees who will enter Canada to cause violence and destruction. Two in ten (22%) disagree, while 30% are neutral.
  • A similar proportion (47%) agrees (21% strongly/26% somewhat) that most foreigners who want to get into Canada as a refugee aren’t really refugees – they just want to come here for economic reasons, or to take advantage of our welfare services. One in four (24%) disagree, while 30% neither agree nor disagree.
  • Only four in ten (44%) agree (12% strongly/32% somewhat) that they are confident that most refugees who come to Canada will successfully integrate into their new society. One in four (24%) disagree, while 32% are neutral.
  • One in three (34%) agree (17% strongly/17% somewhat) that Canada must close its borders to refugees entirely and that we can’t accept any at this time. One in three (35%) disagree (17% strongly/18% somewhat), while 30% neither agree nor disagree.

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between December 7 to 12, 2018, on behalf Global News. For this survey, a sample of 2,001 adults living in Canada was polled. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Darrell Bricker, PhD
CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs
+1 416 324-2001
[email protected]

The author(s)
  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs