OTTAWA — New polling numbers suggest a majority of Canadians believe the federal government should limit the number of immigrants it accepts — a public opinion trend that Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says he finds concerning.
Sixty-three per cent of respondents to a recent Leger poll said the government should prioritize limiting immigration levels because the country might be reaching a limit in its ability to integrate them.
Just 37 per cent said the priority should be on growing immigration to meet the demands of Canada’s expanding economy.
Hussen says he is concerned by this because he has heard directly from employers across the country who are in desperate need of workers. Economists and experts widely agree that immigration is key to meeting labour and population shortages.
Canadians may be worried about the ability of communities to absorb more newcomers due to housing and other infrastructure shortages, but Hussen says the answer is not to cut the number of immigrants coming to Canada.
“It’s not a zero-sum game,” he said.
“I think the answer is to continue on an ambitious program to invest in infrastructure, to invest in housing, to invest in transit, so that everyone can benefit from those investments and that we can then use those community services to integrate newcomers, which will also benefit Canadians.”
The poll of 1,528 Canadians were randomly recruited from Leger’s online panel conducted from June 7 to 10 for The Canadian Press. Polling experts say online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not generate a random sample of the population.
The results suggest Conservative voters are far more likely to favour limiting immigration levels, as are a majority of Green supporters — 81 per cent of Conservative respondents and 57 per cent of Greens chose this option, while 41 per cent of Liberals and 44 per cent of NDP supporters were in favour.
On the flip side, 59 per cent of Liberals said they prefer government increasing the number of immigrants, as did 56 per cent of NDP respondents and 43 per cent of Green supporters. Only 19 per cent of Conservatives favoured this option.
The numbers are not the first to suggest a hardening of public opinion against immigration in Canada.