Canada bills itself as an immigration hub, but more immigrants are unhappy after arriving. A new Leger survey conducted on behalf of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), shows the cost of living is becoming a big deterrent. That’s the number one challenge new Canadians see weighing on future immigration. It’s become so bad, over 1 in 5 new Canadians are considering moving to a new country within the next 2 years.
Canadians Think They Get Immigration. Recent Immigrants Disagree
Canadians are generally detached from reality when it comes to immigration. The survey found 54% of people don’t understand the challenges immigrants face. When new Canadians were asked the same question, 72% felt Canadians don’t understand their challenges. If Canadians don’t understand what immigrants need, they risk ignoring their needs. It becomes hard to attract people if you’re going to ignore the challenges they face. It’s even more difficult to keep those with the highest level of mobility.
Canadians Don’t See Cost of Living As A Problem For Immigrants, But Recent Immigrants Do
Canada’s general population underestimates the impact high living costs have on immigration. Less than a third (31%) feel a high cost of living would prevent immigrants from staying in Canada. New Canadians feel very different, with the majority (64%) feeling a high cost of living is an issue. A bit at odds with the investment thesis on immigration maintaining high levels, despite the cost of living.
Canada’s Rising Cost of Living Will Deter Immigration By Age
The share of Canada’s general population (“general”) and New Canadians (“recent immigrants”) that feel a higher cost of living will deter future immigration.
Source: Leger; ICC; Better Dwelling.
The response by age shows younger immigrants are the ones that see cost of living as a problem. About 75% of new Canadians between 18 and 34 years old, felt cost of living would slow future immigration. Middle-aged Canadians in the 34 to 44 age bracket (67%) and 45 to 54 (62%) felt relatively similar. Only those 55 and older had a minority (49%) which felt the cost of living would present an immigration hurdle. Immigrants above the age of 55 typically have very different reasons for the move. Younger households tend to move for economic opportunity, which can explain the difference.
Over 1 in 5 New Canadians Are Considering Leaving
A lot of new Canadians are considering leaving the country within two years. The survey found 22% of new Canadians are considering leaving within two years. Another 21% were neutral, and undecided on how they currently feel. The remaining 57% said it was unlikely they’ll move. A majority is unlikely to move, but this is still a significant outflow. If those immigrating to Canada face similar issues driving people to leave, eventually immigrants just move to wherever those leaving head.
“Canada is a nation of immigrants — and one of the stories we tell ourselves is that we are welcoming to new immigrants, wherever they may be from,” says ICC CEO Daniel Bernhard. “But while this may be generally true, new survey data points to the fact that many new Canadians are having a crisis of confidence in Canada — and that should be ringing alarm bells all over Ottawa.”
The survey comes after an unusual surge of Canadians leaving the country permanently. Emigration, severing your residency ties, reported the biggest Q4 since 1974. With the OECD forecasting Canada will see the slowest growth of any advanced economy for the next 40 years, there’s quite a few weights on immigration. Canada’s global reputation as an attractive immigration hub with opportunity is built largely on its past results. The current wave of immigrants are starting to find the place that earned the reputation is very different from the current environment.