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Newcomers less supportive of immigration

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Newcomers less supportive of immigration
    Posted: Oct/19/2011 at 7:14am

Recent immigrants and visible minorities are less likely to support immigration than mainstream Canadians, says a new study.

The study, by the Institute for Research on Public Policy released Tuesday, also found women, retirees, people with high school education or less, those struggling to secure jobs and Conservative party supporters are less open to immigration.

Overall though, Canada’s support for immigration remains high despite economic recessions, threats of terrorism and the most recent arrival of illegal migrants off the coast of British Columbia.

“Multiculturalism is a big part of the Canadian identity, like our national parks, health care and the flag,” said report author Jeffrey Reitz, professor at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. “Those who identify with multiculturalism are also more pro-immigration.”

Reitz examined annual Canadian surveys by three major pollsters dating back to 1975 and found a majority of Canadians (over 50 per cent) supported immigration levels or wanted them increased through the years except in 1982, a recession year.

But he also found more than 58 per cent of Canadian-born favoured immigration compared to 54.9 per cent among recent newcomers and visible minorities.

Recent newcomers from developing countries tend to have conservative social values and that explains why this group warms less to immigration and is more in line with a Conservative political agenda, Reitz explained.

“Conservative supporters are less enthusiastic about immigration and multiculturalism,” he added. “Their strategy (during May’s federal election) was to seek support from immigrants by tapping into their conservative social values.”

According to one poll in 2010, 82 per cent of Canadians agreed that immigration had a positive impact on the economy. However, only 68 per cent of those unemployed shared the same view.

Those who consider taxes important to maintaining the Canadian quality of life are also more pro-immigration than “opponents of the welfare state.”

Support for immigration is significantly higher in the Atlantic provinces (62.5%), Quebec (61.8%) and the Prairies (62.8%) than in Ontario (53.5%), Alberta (54.4%) and British Columbia (57.4%).

“When you have a lot of immigrants in one area, people may get turned off by the sheer numbers and think they’ve got enough and do not need as many,” Reitz explained.

In analyzing attitudes to immigration with other broader social and economic values, Reitz found “education is the most important personal characteristic related to support for current levels of immigration.”

Almost 70 per cent of those who completed university supported Ottawa’s current levels of immigration, compared to just 43 per cent of those with high school education or less.

Sixty-three per cent of men favoured immigration, 10 percentage points higher than women. Seven out of 10 students and the self-employed were supportive of immigration, while half of retirees and part-time workers want fewer immigrants.

Posted with permission from The Toronto Star

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