A large majority of Canadians agree that higher immigration is fueling the housing crisis and putting pressure on the health care system, a new Leger poll suggests.
New federal voting intention numbers from the polling firm also show the Conservatives maintaining their large lead over the governing Liberals.
The poll, conducted from Friday to Sunday, found that about three-quarters of respondents agreed that the increase in immigrants is increasing stress on both the housing market and the health care system.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents, or 63 percent, said the influx of new arrivals is also putting pressure on the country’s education systems.
But the poll shows that Canadians see some benefits to increased immigration, too.
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About three-quarters of respondents agreed that increased immigration contributes to the country’s cultural diversity, and 63 percent said the arrival of young immigrants contributes to the workforce and tax base, which supports the older generations.
Leger polled 1,529 people online. Although the results are statistically weighted, they cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered true random samples.
The survey results underscore Canadians’ mixed feelings about the impact of immigration on the country.
At the same time, it signals a shift in public sentiment on immigration, as the country grapples with affordability challenges and problems with the delivery of public services.
By 2022, Canada’s population will grow by more than one million people, a number that includes 607,782 non-permanent residents and 437,180 immigrants.
Leger found that compared to March 2022, the proportion of Canadians who say they want the country to accept more immigrants than in the past has fallen from 17 per cent to nine per cent.
On the other hand, more people say Canada should accept fewer immigrants, with that number rising from 39 percent to 48 percent.
Fewer Canadians support Canada’s immigration levels: poll
Christian Bourque, Leger’s executive vice-president, said more Canadians appear to be linking immigration to problems such as housing affordability.
“The makeup of the country, and the issues facing the country, are quite different than before the pandemic,” Bourque said.
The federal government has come under fire for rapidly increasing annual immigration targets as the number of temporary residents in the country also explodes.
The number of permanent residents Canada is set to accept in 2024 and 2025 will increase according to the plan to 485,000 and 500,000, respectively.
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Slightly more than half of respondents to the Leger poll – 53 per cent – said those numbers were too high, while 28 per cent said Canada was prepared to admit the right number of immigrants. Four percent said the country does not accept enough immigrants.
The federal Liberals have argued that growing the country’s population is essential to address labor shortages and aging demographics. They also argued that the newcomers would help build homes that Canadians desperately needed.
But following much debate over whether Canada can handle these higher immigration flows, Immigration Minister Marc Miller tabled new targets in Parliament earlier this month calling for the number of new permanent residents to remain at 500,000 in 2026.
Internal polling shows Liberal government in trouble
Meanwhile, Leger’s latest poll on federal voting intentions shows the Conservatives maintain a 14-point lead over the Liberals, with 40 per cent of respondents saying they are likely to vote for the Conservatives. if an election is held at polling time. Another 26 per cent said they would vote Liberal, and 20 per cent would vote NDP.
Only 29 percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat satisfied with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, a number that has been declining over the past few months.
A quarter of respondents said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre would make the best prime minister, down four percentage points from October. Trudeau trailed Poilievre at 19 percent, while 17 percent of respondents said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh would make the best prime minister.
Bourque said the lower support for leaders, compared to that for their parties, suggests that the issue of leadership may become more of a focal point in federal politics.
“We see that … all the leaders are not performing well (their parties). Which begs the question: is this about leadership going forward?” he said.
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