Canadians in the dark about immigration numbers: survey

Not surprising that people don’t know the actual immigration figures. Common to many policy areas that most people don’t follow too closely and large numbers are fairly abstract in any case.

Government messaging walks the fine line between reassuring its base, and the broader public, that it is addressing fraud and the risk of over-dramatizing the extent of fraud (e.g., birth tourism) and thus contributing to reduced public confidence:

Ignorance of the facts, however, didn’t stop most of the 3,016 participants polled by Harris/Decima from answering when asked whether there were too many, too few or about the right number of immigrants coming to Canada every year.

Twenty-six per cent said there were too many, 10 per cent said too few and 52 per cent said the number was about right. The rest said they didn’t know.

After they were told the actual number admitted each year, the number who said there were too many jumped to 36 per cent. Nine per cent said too few immigrants were admitted, while 48 per cent thought the number was about right.

When asked if Canada should increase, decrease or maintain its immigration intake over the next five years, nearly half favoured the status quo, about one-third advocated a decrease and 15 per cent wanted immigration levels to rise.

Luc Turgeon, a University of Ottawa political scientist who has studied public attitudes toward immigration, said he wasn’t surprised by the widespread ignorance of actual immigration levels.

“In numerous countries it has been proven that people have no idea how many immigrants their countries are letting in,” he said.

Turgeon said the Conservative federal government has “sent a number of signals” to reassure its base that it’s keeping a close eye on people admitted to Canada.

Those signals include tightening the rules for refugees, making it more difficult for refugees to access publicly funded health care and hinting that changes are in the works to the live-in caregiver program.

Canadians in the dark about immigration numbers: survey | Ottawa Citizen.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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