Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New poll reveals striking consistency between the values of newcomers and those of native-born Canadians on key immigration issues

Culture over cash—Public says adopting Canadian values should be a higher priority for immigrants than achieving financial self-sufficiency: Trudeau Foundation Poll

MONTREAL, November 16, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Canadians almost unanimously expect new immigrants who want to live in Canada to adopt Canadian values, but are much more forgiving about how long it might take to become economically self-sufficient, according to a new survey commissioned by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation in collaboration with Dalhousie University. Interestingly, newcomers themselves feel the same way, and their opinions on other key immigration issues also closely align to those of native-born Canadians. The poll results are being released at a conference on immigration being held by the Foundation in Halifax, November 17-19.

"Canada was built on immigration. It defines our history, which is why it is critical to pause and take a closer look at how it could - and should - shape Canada's future," said Dr. Pierre-Gerlier Forest, President of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. "The Trudeau Foundation Conference, underpinned by this type of research, creates an informed arena for some of the world's leading experts to advance our understanding of vital public issues such as immigration."

When asked by the poll what immigrants should be expected to do as a condition of being accepted into the country, 97 percent of Canadians stressed the adoption of the Canadian values of gender equality and the tolerance of others. Ninety-six percent of immigrants surveyed agreed with this sentiment. In contrast, fewer than six-in-ten (59%) believed that newcomers should become economically self-sufficient within their first year, with 60 percent of immigrants saying the same.

The poll comes at a time when the federal government has proposed to initiate a national reflection about Canada's immigration policy. The poll's findings about Canadians' opinion on immigration could help redefine the current policy.

For example, about half (51%) of Canadians surveyed feel that Canada should place higher priority on accepting applicants who qualify for immigration based on education and employability. Forty-two percent of respondents say that immigrants in this category should be given the same priority as they receive now, and just four percent say they should be given lower priority.

In contrast, over a third (35%) of those surveyed for the Trudeau Foundation say that those who have family members living in Canada should be given higher priority, and 55 percent say that they should be given the same priority as they receive now. Just eight percent suggest that they should receive lower priority.

Similarly, public opinion about easing obstacles for temporary foreign workers is decidedly mixed: three in ten (33%) say that they approve of the decision to accept an increasing number of foreign workers, compared with one-third (35%) who disapprove and a comparable portion (32%) who have no clear opinion.

While newcomers have historically settled in major urban centres such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, creating popular enclaves known as Chinatown and Little India, three quarters (74%) of Canadians believe immigrants should be more evenly distributed across the country. Seventy-two percent of immigrants share this view, the poll reveals.

In general, the poll demonstrates that Canadians are much more likely to be positive than negative about the overall impact of Canada's longstanding tradition of accepting newcomers. By a three-to-one margin, the public says that immigration is making Canada a better place (47%) rather than a worse place (16%); the remainder says that it makes no difference (29%) or is unable to offer a definitive response (8%). Similarly, the Canadian public is more likely than not to believe that immigrants are fitting into their new community in terms of finding jobs (58%), participating in civic institutions like voting (57%), and adopting Canadian values (55%), although sizable minorities disagree.

The Trudeau Foundation Conference - The Making of Citizens: Beyond the Canadian Consensus on Immigration—takes place in Halifax, NS, on November 17-19, 2011. The conference features keynote speeches and panel discussions with renowned specialists on critical issues related to immigration. Topics include immigration policy, multiculturalism, integration, economic impact, social and cultural implications and the environmental impact of immigration.

About the Foundation

A Canadian institution with a national purpose, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation is an independent and non-partisan charity. It was established in 2001 as a living memorial to the former Prime Minister by his family, friends, and colleagues. In 2002, the Government of Canada endowed the Foundation with a donation of $125 million following a unanimous vote in the House of Commons. In addition, the Foundation benefits from private sector donations in support of specific initiatives. Through its Scholarship, Fellowship, Mentorship and Public Interaction programs, the Foundation supports outstanding individuals who make meaningful contributions to critical public issues. More at

About the research

The results are based on a telephone survey conducted by the Environics Research Group with a representative sample of 2,000 Canadians 18 years and older between October 11 and 22, 2011. The sample was stratified by province and community size to ensure adequate coverage of jurisdictions for analysis purposes. A sample of this size produces a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error is greater for results for regional and socio-demographic subgroups of the total sample.

The survey questions were designed by Environics senior researchers in conjunction with representatives from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and Dalhousie University.

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