A pre-election poll conducted by the CBC, shows Canadians want more skilled migrants entering the country, and a majority now oppose taking in more refugees. 

The poll explains that the Canadian government categorizes migrants into three groups: economic (skilled workers and their families); family reunification; and refugees. 

More than three-fourths of Canadians supported taking in more skilled immigrants and believe that Canada should encourage more to come to its shores. 

The situation is starkly different when we look at refugees, as more than half of Canadians (57 per cent) want Canada to not accept any more refugees. 

Experts believe this comes as the migration crises in Europe and the US create fears of a domino effect in Canada. 

Dorota Blumczynska, executive director of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, says that she is witnessing a “drastic decline” in the welcoming of refugees in Manitoba. Blumczynska’s family were refugees that came to Canada nearly 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, an Ethiopian refugee from Sudan, Alemayehu Beyene, arrived with his family to Canada two and a half years ago. He finds the poll results surprising.

He says that “nobody wants to be a refugee. Somebody push[es] you to go into refuge.”

The survey polled 4,500 Canadians online and found the following additional information: 

  • 64 per cent of respondents said illegal immigration is becoming a serious problem. 
  • 56 per cent said that accepting too many immigrants will change Canada.
  • 24 per cent of respondents said too many immigrants are visible minorities.

Experts further point to the lack of clarity on Canada’s border situation, which is amplifying fears and is being used by various actors to spread messages.

It seems as though all parties have taken a stance to reevaluate immigration numbers if they come to power, with the Conservatives, NDP, and Greens emphasizing economic immigration. 

Meanwhile, the federal government has confirmed that 321,045 immigrants came to Canada in 2018. They plan to increase this to 350,000 each year by 2021.

“Immigration has been, and continues to be, good for Canada,” said Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “We are an ageing society. We have a growing economy that needs a lot of new workers.”