An Angus Reid poll has revealed nearly half of Canadians either support Ottawa’s plan to increase immigration or want to see even higher numbers of newcomers to help fuel the economic recovery from COVID-19.
Responses show some 34 per cent are happy with the federal government immigration levels plan, while 13 per cent want to see an even greater increase. A further 39 per cent say the levels are too high, with 14 per cent not sure.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration to Canada has declined recently to levels not seen in over two decades,” reports the pollster. “Just 184,370 new permanent residents arrived in Canada in 2020, just over half the number from the previous year, and the lowest number since 174,000 arrived in 1997.
“Before the pandemic, Canada’s immigration program had been expanding. The Liberal government’s plan is to increase the number of new permanent residents from approximately 300,000 per year over the last five years (without including 2020), to 411,000 in 2022.”
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In the poll released on Monday, June 28, more than a third of Canadians applauded the ambitious immigration targets set out by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.
The Canadian government wants to welcome more than 1.2 million newcomers between 2021 and 2023. There are to be 401,000 new permanent residents to Canada this year, 411,000 next year, and 421,000 in 2023.
Canada Confident It Will Achieve Immigration Goals
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has said he’s confident Ottawa will be able to hit those targets.
“When I tabled the immigration plan a little while ago, we could have put a pause, we could have reversed, we could have cut immigration but I believe, I firmly believe and our government believes that through immigration we will continue to grow,” said the immigration at the height of the third wave of the pandemic.
“I am confident that we can hit the levels that we have set … I’m confident because we are innovating at quantum speed … We have created new polices that will allow people into the country but in a manner that is safe.”
Canada views immigration as vital to its economic resurgence in the wake of the pandemic.
“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth,” said Mendicino late last year. “Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table.
“As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves,” he said. “Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”
Immigration Support Varies By Political Leaning
The latest Angus Reid poll shows 34 per cent of Canadians approve of Ottawa’s current immigration targets.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, public support for current immigration levels is highest among those who support Trudeau’s Liberal Party and the slightly more left-leaning and pro-immigration New Democratic Party (NDP).
“A plurality of past NDP (43 per cent) and Liberal (47 per cent) voters believe the current target of 411,000 new permanent residents is the right amount,” reports Angus Reid.
By comparison, less than one in four supporters of the right-leaning Conservative Party, the Liberals’ opposition, supports the current immigration levels.
Among those who feel the target of 411,000 new immigrants to Canada this year is not enough, support is again highest among past Liberal and NDP voters, with one in five of them supporting even more immigration.
India is currently the greatest source of those new permanent residents to Canada – and fully three in five Canadians say they have no preference as the nationality of immigrants coming to the country.
Atlantic Canada Enthusiastic About Immigration
But some do. And the results of those preferences seem to indicate a significant chunk of Canadians want Ottawa to recruit immigrants from different countries than it has in the past few years.
“One-quarter (26 per cent) prefer Europe, while one-in-five (20 per cent) say the United States and Mexico,” reports Angus Reid. “Immigration from South Asia is chosen by just four per cent.”
Those who disapprove of the current immigration levels are less than half of all Canadians, at 39 per cent with residents of the Prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan being the least likely to approve of Canada’s current and historically-high immigration targets.
Half of all Albertans polled and 54 per cent of those in Saskatchewan said the current immigration targets are too high, with 64 per cent of Conservatives in that part of the country wanting lower immigration targets, at least for now.
Atlantic Canadians, those living in the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, are the most enthusiastic of all Canadians when it comes to immigration. In those provinces, the population decline due to the aging of the population has pushed support for the current levels of immigration – and even higher levels of immigration – to 54 per cent.
“The region has seen an ‘immigration revolution’ in the past two decades and many would like that to continue,” reports Angus Reid.