Half of Canadians now agree that immigration levels are too high. A recent Leger survey conducted for the Association for Canadian Studies and the Metropolis Institute found that the amount of Canadians who shared that sentiment in January 2023 was only about 21%, revealing a dramatic change in opinion in just over a year. 

“This concern about immigration has traction and certainly it constitutes a challenge to this consensus…. This suggests it’s a departure from what we’ve seen in the previous decade,” Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies and the Metropolis Institute told the National Post

Canada welcomed around one million new temporary and permanent immigrants in 2022, which ultimately brought the country to a record new population of 40 million people. 

The Trudeau government announced last November that it would be capping Canada’s annual immigrant target at 500,000, beginning in 2026. 

Of those 50% of Canadians who believe the current immigration levels are too high, 39% believe that it’s having a negative impact on housing, exasperating the current crisis. Within that same cohort, 21% said they felt that immigrants are “draining the system.”

“They’re all rooted in this idea that our economy is challenged at supporting this number of immigrants, whether it’s housing or services, or so forth — at least for people who feel there are too many,” said Jedwab.

A minority of Canadians believe the opposite however, with 7% responding that immigration levels should increase, to help fill job vacancies and prevent population decline. 

Canada’s current birth rate stands at 1.33 children per woman, the lowest in history.  

“There’s definitely a significant part of the population that has concerns about the economy and another part of the population that may have concerns about the economy, but still maintains immigration is the answer,” added Jedwab.

While 50% of Canadians believe that current levels are too high, there isn’t widespread fear regarding sentiments of xenophobia. 

Only 10% said that they fear Canadians will become a “minority” due to high immigration levels. Even fewer respondents, 8%, said they didn’t feel that immigrants shared Canadians values, with the lowest cohort, 4%, saying that they believed immigration was bringing criminals into the country. 

There was another more significant minority, 18%, who believed that immigrants were taking jobs from Canadians. 

“It’s really more rooted in the economy and our capacity to support this number of immigrants with available services,” said Jedwab.

The concern for high levels of immigration doesn’t appear to fall across ethnic lines, as both white and non-white Canadians shared the same concern with a difference of only four percentage points. 

Atlantic Canadians shared the strongest opposition to immigration, compared to other provinces. 

Respondents in New Brunswick held the strongest opposition, with 59% saying that current levels were too high and 56% of Nova Scotians agreed.

British Columbia, Ontataio and Saskatchewan all followed closely behind, with 53% saying there are currently too many immigrants coming into Canada. 

About half of Albertans agreed as well, but that sentiment decreased to 46% in Manitoba and 44% in Quebec. 

Income played a role in how respondents answered, with Canadians earning less than $40,000 (57% of Canadians) being the most likely to oppose current immigration levels. 

Canadians who earn over $100,000 annually were less likely to hold that view, at 46%.  

Respondents generally said that Canada’s immigration strategy needs to shift its focus from refugees to skilled workers, with a consensus of 59% saying that change must be made. 

Whereas respondents who felt the current levels were accurate tended to value family reunification at 40% and taking in refugees at 22%. 


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