Randy Thanthong-Knight, Bloomberg, October 30, 2023
Canada’s longest-running poll on immigration showed a sharp drop in public support for high numbers of newcomers as housing affordability and availability worsened.
Some 44% of respondents now agree with the statement “there’s too much immigration to Canada,” compared with just 27% last year, according to a survey by Environics Institute in partnership with Century Initiative. That’s up 17 percentage points, the largest annual change ever recorded since the polling began in 1977.
Although those who disagree with that statement are still the majority, they now make up just 51%, the lowest since 1998. That’s a decrease from 69% previously, the highest level on record. It’s a trend reversal in a country that has fostered an immigration-friendly image, which gives it an edge in a global race for skilled workers.
The survey reflects growing criticism that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has exacerbated existing housing shortages through its immigration policies — aimed at rapidly adding more workers to stave off economic decline from an aging populace. Over a one-year period to July 1, Canada’s population grew at a record 2.9%, among the world’s fastest rates, bringing the number of residents to 40.1 million.
“This is the first time in our research that a significant number of Canadians are now questioning the number of immigrants being accepted,” Keith Neuman, the author of the Environics report published on Monday, said in an interview. “The main thing we’re seeing is that people are more concerned about the capacity of the country to absorb a lot of newcomers when things aren’t working as well as they were before.”
Among respondents who agree that Canada accepts too many immigrants, the most widely cited reason was that newcomers may be driving up housing prices or making fewer homes available. Other top responses include concerns that immigrants are a drain on public finances, bad for the economy or contributing to overpopulation.