June 24, 2024

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Canadian attitudes shift as half believe immigration levels are excessive

According to a recent survey conducted by the agency Leger in partnership with the Association for Canadian Studies and the Metropolis Institute, half of Canadians feel that immigration levels into the country are too high. This represents a significant increase from previous sentiments, with only 21% expressing similar views in a survey conducted by the Canadian government in January 2023, as reported by the National Post.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies and the Metropolis Institute, noted that while Canada historically embraced immigration, the growing concern among citizens poses a challenge to this consensus. He emphasised that this shift in public opinion deviates from trends observed in the past decade.

The surge in immigration, particularly following the easing of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has contributed to the evolving attitudes. In 2022 alone, nearly a million newcomers entered the country, a trend that continued into 2023. The influx, coupled with a record number of international students, has fueled the discourse on immigration levels.

Naresh Chavda, president of Globayan Immigration Corporation, highlighted that the change in sentiment is not necessarily anti-immigrant but rather a reflection of concerns about the country’s capacity to absorb newcomers. Economic factors, such as rising costs of living and housing affordability, have exacerbated apprehensions among both recent immigrants and those who previously held liberal views on immigration.

The shifting public perception has reverberated in government policies, impacting measures related to study permits and permanent residencies. In response to the changing landscape, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced initiatives to address concerns, including capping study permit applications and stabilising the intake of permanent residents.

Starting this year, IRCC will limit study permit approvals to 35% of applications, with an estimated reduction to 360,000 approvals. Additionally, the government plans to stabilise the annual intake of permanent residents at 500,000 beginning in 2026.

The evolving attitudes towards immigration underscore the complexity of the issue and the need for policymakers to balance demographic considerations with public sentiment and economic realities.