As part of its Focus Canada public opinion research program, the Environics Institute partnered with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to update its ongoing research on Canadian attitudes about immigration and multiculturalism. This survey is based on telephone interviews conducted with 2,000 Canadians (aged 18 plus) between February 5 and 17, 2018. A sample of this size drawn from the population produces results accurate to within plus or minus 2.2 percentage points in 19 out of 20 samples.
Survey findings were presented by the CRRF at the 2018 Metropolis Conference. To view that presentation, please click here:
Immigration and refugees.
Immigration and refugee issues have been prominent over the past year, both worldwide and in Canada. Migration levels continue to surge from conflict zones in the Middle East and elsewhere, with receiving countries struggling with accommodation and political backlash. The situation is much quieter in Canada, where more than 30,000 Syrian refugees have now been settled across the country with little apparent controversy. At the same time, record numbers of refugees have shown up at the southern border, looking for respite from new US government policies targetting undocumented residents and people from Muslim countries. The past year has also witnessed our own unfortunate incidents of harassment and hate crimes against people of colour, which remind us that xenophobia also exists here. But how do Canadians as a people feel today about our increasingly diverse society and the treatment of people who are different?
Results of this latest survey show that Canadians as a whole continue to be more positive than negative about the current levels of immigrants coming to this country, and with the legitimacy of refugees who have been arriving. A significant proportion still believe too many immigrants not adopting Canadian values remain, but this concern continues to gradually wane over time. Moreover, results from an international survey conducted by Gallup make it clear that Canada stands out among nations as a country that accepts, if not welcomes, people from elsewhere.
As before, opinions vary somewhat across the country. Positive views about immigration and refugees continue to be more widespread in B.C., among younger generations (ages 18 to 29), Canadians with a university education, and immigrants (who now make up more than 20% of the population). This perspective is least apt to be shared in Alberta, among Canadians aged 60 plus, and those with a high school diploma.
Treatment of minority groups.
Canada is often celebrated as a diverse, multicultural country with little inter-group conflict, but discrimination and racism are a documented reality that is acknowledged by most Canadians, although there are differences in opinion about the treatment of various groups, and the extent to which each faces mistreatment in society.
Muslims, people from Middle Eastern countries, and Indigenous Peoples are most widely seen as experiencing ongoing discrimination. Black people and South Asians somewhat less so, while Jews and Chinese people are least apt to be seen as victims of such treatment. Perceptions of the frequency of discrimination has declined marginally for all groups since 2015. The reason for this shift isn’t clear from the data, but may possibly be due to the increased attention now being given to racism and sexism (e.g., Black Lives Matter, #MeToo) that might lead some Canadians to believe these problems are now being addressed more than before.
Muslims in Canada.
Of all the distinct groups in Canadian society today, Muslims are most widely considered tobe the “other” because of where they come from, associations with terrorism in other countries, and specific religious practices like head coverings. The non-Muslim public’s view of Muslims continues to be mixed and quite possibly ambivalent. Canadians are somewhat more likely to be positive than negative in their overall opinion of Islam, but they are more apt than not to believe that Muslims want to remain distinct from Canadian society rather than fit in.
Read the full report, including data tables, here.
Full Report - French (Coming soon)
This survey result was presented at the 2018 Metropolis Conference. To view that presentation, please click here: