There was a large influx of asylum claimants crossing into Canada outside of regular border posts to avoid being turned back to the United States. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters/August 2017)

Survey: Canadian attitudes on immigration hardening?

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For the past several decades, Canadians have generally been favourable to immigration, but a recent survey shows there may be a significant change in attitude.

The recent controversial policies of the current Trudeau government in bringing in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, a significant increase in immigration targets, and with thousands continuing to enter illegally, may all have combined for the change.

The Trudeau government increased immigration targets for Canada from 260,000 per year, to 310,000 per year. The latest poll on Canadian attitudes fourn almost half (49%) thought this number was too high.

The poll by the Angus Reid Institute, looked at data going back to 1975 and to date.

Angus Reid Inst.

Generally those polled over the years since 1975 have held relatively steady attitudes. Those saying immigration rates should stay the same, has hovered between 42 to 48 per cent.  Those saying immigration should be increased has traditionally ranged between 9 to 18 per cent. Those saying immigration levels should decrease have ranged between 32 to 45 percent.

The survey also looked at immigration in terms of “economic class” of immigrant which makes up about 57 per cent of immigrants,  “family class” which comprises about 28 per cent, and refugee class which is about 15 per cent of immigration totals.

Angus Reid Inst

The lates figures show those in favour of decreased immigration have increased to 49 per cent while those saying it should stay the same increase has dropped to 31 per cent and those saying Canada should increase immigration has dropped to a new low of 6 per cent.

Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute is quick to point out that although there is a relatively big shift in attitude, one shouldn’t draw long term conclusions from a single data point. She says they can’t determine if this is a “blip” or a longer term indication of a clear change in attitudes.

The Trudeau government has been coming under increasing fire for not tightening border security against the influx of illegal crossings and asylum claims. Many critics have blamed a tweet he made for starting the influx.

Additional information-sources

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