Six in Ten (62%) Believe Trudeau Lacks Solid Plan to Fix Migrant Issue in Quebec as Majority (67%) Believe Migrants are Just Trying to Skip the Line, Not Legitimate Refugees

Majority (56%) Believes Use of Army to Build Shelters for Asylum Seekers Shows Issue is Out of Control and Being Poorly Managed

The author(s)
  • Mitra Thompson Senior Account Manager, Canada, Public Affairs
  • Mike Colledge President, Ipsos Public Affairs Canada
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Toronto, Ontario, August 15, 2017 — A majority of Canadians appear to lack confidence in the way the federal government has been handling the migrant situation in Quebec and believe that Trudeau does not have a solid plan to fix the issue, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News. Furthermore, most Canadians are not convinced that these migrants are legitimate refugees seeking asylum.

There has been a recent surge of asylum seekers crossing into Quebec from the United States. Given the time it takes to process a refugee claim and the number of people seeking asylum, the Government of Canada has called in the army to set up a temporary camp site near the Quebec-U.S. border to house the asylum seekers until they have been processed. However, this situation has not instilled confidence in Canadians that the situation is under control.

A majority (62%) of Canadians ‘disagree’ (28% strongly/33% somewhat) that ‘the current situation with the refugees is just temporary and the Trudeau government has a solid plan to fix it’. Conversely, just four in ten (38%) ‘agree’ (6% strongly/33% somewhat) that the situation is temporary and the government has a plan. Those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (81%) are most likely to disagree, followed by people in Alberta (76%), BC (60%), Ontario (58%), Quebec (58%) and Atlantic Canada (58%).

When asked whether they believe the people crossing the border illegally into Quebec from the U.S. are legitimate refugees trying to seek asylum in Canada or migrants skipping the legal process for immigrating into Canada by falsely claiming they are asylum seekers, two thirds (67%) of Canadians believe they are simply migrants trying to skip the legal process for immigrating to Canada, while just one in three (33%) believe they are legitimate refugees trying to seek asylum. Quebecers (76%) are the most likely to believe that people crossing over in this manner are migrants trying to skip the legal process, followed by those living in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (71%), Alberta (69%), British Columbia (65%), Ontario (62%) and Atlantic Canada (57%).

Many Canadians believe the situation is getting out of control, and that calling in the military to help house the asylum seekers is a bad sign. A majority (56%) ‘agrees’ (24% strongly/32% somewhat) that ‘having the army build shelters to house asylum seekers shows this issue is out of control and being poorly managed by the Trudeau government’. Four in ten (44%) ‘disagree’ (13% strongly/31% somewhat) that the use of the army in this way indicates that the situation is out of control. Albertans (71%), Quebecers (60%) and residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (60%) agree most, followed by those in Atlantic Canada (55%), Ontario (54%) and British Columbia (41%).

Moreover, only a minority (44%) ‘agrees’ (10% strongly/34% somewhat) that the ‘Trudeau government is doing enough to protect the Canadian border from those who want to cause harm to Canada’, while a majority (56%) ‘disagrees’ (27% strongly/29% somewhat) that the government is doing enough to protect the border. While half (50%) of Ontarians agree that the government is doing enough, fewer in British Columbia (46%), Atlantic Canada (46%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (41%), Quebec (39%) and Alberta (34%) agree.

Not only are Canadians not fully satisfied with the handling of the situation thus far, but also with the prospects for a solution. Six in ten (58%) ‘disagree’ (23% strongly/35% somewhat) that ‘the Trudeau government is doing enough to find a permanent solution to the issue of asylum seekers coming into Canada from the United States’, while four in ten (42%) ‘agree’ (8% strongly/34% somewhat) that enough is being done to find a solution. Once again, those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (71%) and Alberta (70%) are most likely to disagree, followed by those in BC (58%), Atlantic Canada (57%), Quebec (56%) and Ontario (55%).

While 44% do ‘agree’ (11% strongly/32% somewhat) that ‘people who are criticizing how the Trudeau government is managing the asylum seeker issue are exaggerating the problems because they really just hate immigrants’, a majority (56%) of Canadians ‘disagree’ (24%strongly/33% somewhat) that the criticism is misdirected.

A shifting climate in the United States and the subsequent wave of crossings into Canada that are not at an official Port of Entry has put more focus on the rules governing the treatment of refugees once they cross into Canada. A migrant crossing into Canada from the United States legally at a border crossing or port of entry cannot seek refugee status in Canada and is returned to the United States. However, a migrant crossing into Canada from the United States illegally, such as walking across an unprotected section of the border, can seek refugee status in Canada.

A majority of Canadians (52%) express awareness (20% very/32% somewhat) of these rules, while nearly half (48%) say they are not aware (21% not at all/27% not very aware). Despite what appears to be growing concern about the situation, awareness of these rules has held relatively steady, down just 3 points since March.

Regarding the current situation in Quebec, just 9% say they’re following the issue closely, while 35% are following it somewhat closely. Four in ten (38%) say they’ve heard about it but are not following the story, while for two in ten (18%) Canadians, this poll is the first they’ve heard of it. Perhaps not surprisingly, those in Quebec (54%) are more likely to be following the situation (14% very closely/40% somewhat closely), followed by those in Alberta (47%), Ontario (42%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (40%), BC (38%) and Atlantic Canada (32%).


These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 11 and 14, 2017, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,003 Canadians aged 18+ from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. 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 ±3.5 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:
Mike Colledge, President
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 613 688 8971
[email protected]

Mitra Thompson
Senior Account Manager, Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 514 904 4329
[email protected]

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About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry. With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media, customer loyalty, marketing, public affairs research, and survey management. Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,669.5 ($2,218.4 million) in 2014.


The author(s)
  • Mitra Thompson Senior Account Manager, Canada, Public Affairs
  • Mike Colledge President, Ipsos Public Affairs Canada