Experts believe Canada’s anti-immigrant sentiments will change post economic revival | World News - Hindustan Times
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Experts believe Canada’s anti-immigrant sentiments will change post economic revival

Dec 11, 2023 12:10 PM IST

As sentiment in Canada turns decisively against high levels of immigration, experts believe that the current mood will change once economic stresses causing it are alleviated.

As sentiment in Canada turns decisively against high levels of immigration, experts believe that the current mood will change once economic stresses causing it are alleviated.

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Multiple polls over recent months have shown a perceptible change in opinion towards immigration given a cost-of-living crisis, housing affordability issues and pressure on health and other infrastructure. In a recent poll, the agency Abacus Data found that 67% of respondents considered the levels of immigration to Canada either way too high or too high, an increase of 6% since July this year. Only 24% felt that the present level of immigration was contributing positively to the country, a drop of 4% since July.

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However, immigration experts believe that angst over immigration could be short lived. “Given no major political party opposes immigration, I believe recent weakening support for immigration will diminish and more people will support immigration once again once the number of international students decline and people see permanent residence numbers remaining flat,” Ravi Jain, co-president of the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association said.

He felt the current mood “solely relates to housing concerns.”

The view was shared by Toronto-based immigration lawyer Sumit Sen. “Canadians are not turning against immigration,” he stressed. “If there is an anti-immigrant opinion in some quarters, it will dissipate as soon as the economic crisis goes away,” he added.

Andrew McDoungall, a political scientist with the University of Toronto said it “would be going too far to say that there’s been an anti-immigrant turn in Canada.”

“I don’t think that has happened yet. Although I think what has started to happen is there’s been more questions raised about how immigration is being done,” he said.

The trend against high immigration has become evident only this year, as inflation remains high and shelter costs skyrocket. In October, a poll from the non-profit Environics Institute for Survey Research noted, “The latest Focus Canada research shows a significant jump in the proportion of Canadians who believe the country accepts too many immigrants, marking a dramatic reversal from a year ago when public support for immigration numbers stood at an all-time high, which at the time marked a rising trend stretching back three decades.”

In November, the Government responded to the growing pressure by announcing it will not increase the intake of permanent residents beginning from 2026. This is the first time since the Government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came into power in 2015 that the immigration levels were not enhanced.

Ottawa will maintain its targets of 485,000 permanent residents for 2024 and 500,000 in 2025, as announced last year. However, a statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said, “Starting in 2026, the government will stabilize permanent resident levels at 500,000, allowing time for successful integration, while continuing to augment Canada’s labour market.”

“By stabilizing the number of newcomers, we recognize that housing, infrastructure planning, and sustainable population growth need to be properly taken into account,” Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller said at the time.

Immigrants from India form the largest country cohort among new permanent residents (PRs). According to the IRCC’s annual report tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, last year, those from India comprised 118,224 or nearly 27% of the total 437,539 PRs admitted.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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