Most Canadians believe immigration has a positive impact, but a new poll suggests nearly 40 per cent would like to see a decrease in the number of newcomers each year.
An online survey by Research Co., released Tuesday, asked 1,000 Canadians about their views on legal immigration.
Almost half of them, or 46 per cent, agreed that immigration is having a “mostly positive effect.” That included 47 per cent of respondents from B.C. and 52 per cent from Quebec, where residents are seeing the brunt of illegal immigrants claiming asylum at the U.S.-Canada border.
But 36 per cent of respondents overall said they believe immigration is having a mostly negative effect in the country, including 42 per cent of Albertans.
Roughly 35 per cent of respondents from B.C. also said it’s having a negative effect, while 18 per cent were not sure. And when asked if they feel the hard work and talent of immigrants make Canada better, 46 per cent of British Columbians disagreed.
According to the 2016 census data, 21.9 per cent of people identified as an immigrant or permanent resident. Annually, the federal government has admitted roughly 290,000 permanent residents into the country since 2015, with plans to reach 340,000 newcomers by 2020.
How Canadians feel about immigration appears to be based on their age, said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co.
Fifty-five per cent of respondents ages 18 to 34 felt positively, he said. The same was felt by 46 per cent of those 55 and older.
He said that proportion drops to 39 per cent among respondents aged 35 to 54 years old.
That age group was the most likely to call for fewer legal immigrants being admitted to Canada, at roughly 40 per cent, and the least likely to believe an increase is warranted (15 per cent).
Overall, half of all respondents said they believe immigrants should only be allowed in Canada if they adopt Canadian values. That proportion rises the most among Albertans, to 61 per cent.