Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Canadians love their immigrants

In a world that sometimes seems to be lurching inexorably towards anti-immigrant sentiments and attitudes, Canada stands as a beacon of hope.
Last year to July, Canada accepted over 320,000 (about 1% of its total population) new immigrants, it highest ever annual immigration figure, including over 32,000 Syrian refugees. And yet a recent Environics Institute survey suggests that public opinion on immigration and citizenship in Canada has remained stable or even improved over the last year or so.
Around 80% of Canadians across all demographic groups believe that immigration is good for the country's economy, with multi-cultural Toronto and those with a university degree holding this belief most strongly.
48% of respondents believe that Canada's refugee levels are about right, with a further 10% saying that the country takes in too few immigrants. 36% say the levels are too high, although most of these are mainly concerned about the country's capacity to support so many refugees, and not expressing discomfort with, or fear of, immigrants.
A graph of those agreeing or disagreeing with the statement "immigration levels are too high" shows a fascinating trend over the last 40 years. From 1977 to about 1996, the percentage of people in agreement with the statement was consistently over 60%. Then, from 1996 to 2002, that percentage fell precipitously to below 40%, where it has remained ever since.
About 90% of respondents in the survey say that someone born elsewhere is just as likely to be a good citizen as someone born here, and the numbers who are worried about immigrants not accepting "Canadian values" is now at its lowest level in over 20 years.
This poll comes as Canadian Immigration Minister John McCallum is due to announce new immigration targets for the coming years. An economics advisory panel to the federal government recently recommended to him an increase in immigration to around 450,000 a year, although it is thought that Mr McCallum believes that to be too sharp an increase.

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