Posted on February 21, 2024

Trudeau’s Welcome Mat for Immigrants Wears Thin Amid Canada Housing Crunch

Reuters, February 17, 2024

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has relied on immigration to drive economic growth and plug labor gaps, but now he is hitting the brakes after a seismic shift in public opinion that could undermine his chances to win the next election.

It was Trudeau’s father, Pierre, who championed immigration as prime minister in the early 1970s, promoting “multiculturalism” as government policy. Over time, Canadians have come to see the country’s diversity as part of its identity, like the maple leaf and hockey.

But when international students led a surge in immigration in the wake of the pandemic, the public mood soured as rental costs soared and services like healthcare came under strain.

“One of the reasons why we got here in the first place was that (provincial and federal) governments just didn’t want to touch this issue out of a fear of looking xenophobic,” said Mike Moffatt, founding director of the Place Centre, a thinktank focused on sustainable housing.

Immigration went from historically high levels of support among Canadians in 2020 to a three-decade low at the end of 2023, according to Ekos Research polling company data provided exclusively to Reuters.

In October, 44.5% of Canadians told Ekos there were too many immigrants, citing lack of affordable housing as their main reason, up from a 30-year low of 14% in February 2022. Rental inflation hit 7.8% in the final quarter of last year.


Since taking power in 2015, Trudeau’s Liberal government has progressively ramped up immigration in a country where already more than a fifth of the citizens are foreign born. {snip}