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Shifting views, but the same values: New public opinion poll on immigrants and refugees

October 30, 2023

Today the Environics Institute for Survey Research and Century Initiative released a new national survey on Canadian public opinion about immigration and refugees, as part of the Environics Institute’s ongoing Focus Canada research program.

The survey results reveal that more Canadians are hesitant about current levels of immigration. Those who agreed that there is too much immigration cited housing availability and affordability as their most significant concern. In other words, Canadians are responding to real concerns.

While this change is significant, it is important to note that the lack of support for the current immigration levels is still a minority position. The fundamental Canadian mindset towards immigration is not changing. There has been no change in how Canadians feel about immigrants themselves, how they integrate, and what they contribute to society.

The results suggest that rather than an uptick in xenophobia or hostility to immigrants, Canadians have identified more practical concerns about our country’s capacity to welcome the number of immigrants that are arriving each year.

It is now up to governments and other institutions to take the necessary steps to support a growing population. The survey results should be a clarion call for proactive long-term economic planning, strategic integration policies, and increased investment in social and physical infrastructure like housing.

 "The implication is clear: we need to do a better job building housing that is affordable and investing in the infrastructure and services we need to continue to support population growth through immigration. Unless we get our policies right, there is some risk that support for immigration will decline, which would have long-term impacts on our prosperity" said Lisa Lalande, CEO of Century Initiative.

Since its founding Century Initiative has advocated for a long-term planning approach that ensures Canada can welcome the immigration it needs. This means ensuring immigration policies are complemented by policies that address housing and infrastructure needs, education and childcare, and social welfare, as well as policies that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.

Given Canada's demographic trends, responsible population growth is critical to Canada’s long-term economic and social prosperity. Now is the time to stay committed to immigration.

The underlying fundamentals of Canadians' support for immigration remain strong. Bold action – not hesitation - is necessary to deal with the practical issues facing Canadians today and in the future.

Read the report for more details.