Most Canadians Now Think Immigration Is Too High: Leger 

Canada is known for its generous immigration policies but that might change soon. A new survey from Canadian Press and Leger looked at the public opinion on immigration and its impact on services. Most households feel Canada is pursuing an overly aggressive immigration policy contributing to an affordability crisis, and a net negative impact on the economy.  

Most Canadians Feel The Country Admits “Too Many” Immigrants

Canadians are cooling on their passion for immigration. Most (53%) feel the Federal Government’s plan will admit too many immigrants in the coming years. From March 2022, the share that would like to see expanded immigration fell from 17% to just 8% as of last week.  

Not all of those who think immigration is too high want reductions, but a good share do. The most popular opinion (48%) is that Canada should reduce immigration. It’s followed by 43% of people wanting a freeze on the current level.  

Age played a role in the desire to see reduced immigration, but not as big as one would expect. Most Boomers (54%) want to see a reduction in immigration. The same was true for  people aged 35-54 (52%), but only a minority of those 18-34 (36%) would like to see a reduction. 

However, the youngest age group is still heavily slanted against increased immigration. Half (50%) would like to see targets frozen at the current levels.  

Most Canadians Feel Immigration Is Driving A Housing Crisis And Putting Pressure On Healthcare

Do Canadians still see aggressive immigration as a good thing? Most respondents still feel it’s contributing to the housing crisis (75%), putting pressure on health care (73%), the school system (63%), and contributing to an overall affordability crisis (58%).

Despite most seeing problems with immigration, most agree there are benefits. Canadians were in agreement that immigrants contribute to cultural diversity (76%), tax revenue and support of older households (63%), and they’re necessary to resolve labor shortages (56%). As you might guess, these positives aren’t enough to influence the overall perspective of most people. 

Just 1 in 4 Canadians (26%) feel the current levels of immigration will have a net benefit to the economy. The most popular opinion is it will produce a net negative impact (45%). About 1 in 5 respondents (19%) weren’t sure or preferred not to answer the question, and just 10% felt immigration would have no impact. 

The shift from Canada embracing immigration to thinking it’s too aggressive appears huge. However, looking back to a 2019 Leger poll found most voters (63%) felt immigration was too aggressive. Only a small share (37%) felt an increase should be a priority. However, the share in favor of increased immigration is now just a quarter of those levels. 

Affordability and shelter play a significant role in the shaping of opinion on immigration. However, it’s worth considering that Canada’s home prices grew most aggressively during a period of virtually no immigration. Supply was rapidly outpacing the number of new households, yet the price of a home had accelerated due entirely to the introduction of excess leverage. 

During the late 80s and early 90s, the Canadian real estate bubble was also attributed to immigrants. Just a few years later, immigration remained robust but the price of a home continued to fall for years, despite rate cuts. Sometimes it’s not the number of people that drive home prices, but the expectation that immigrants can bolster higher home prices

Markets pushed to extremes also tend to resolve immigration issues on its own. Canada has already seen a reduction in international students applying to study. As the facade of opportunity fades, a reality where immigrants feel duped begins to spread. This risks much more long-term damage. It took decades to build a reputation of a country that provides opportunity for immigrants. It only takes a few years to develop a reputation of a country that exploits them.