More than half of Canadians say immigration levels should either stay the same or increase, according to a new survey.
The Angus Reid Institute poll reveals 39 percent believe the 331,800 immigrants Canada plans to welcome this year is about right. A further 13 percent feel the number should increase.
On the flip side, 40 percent of respondents support a drop in immigration numbers.
The poll comes amid a hotly contested general election campaign, with the vote set for October 21.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is striving for re-election with a plan for careful immigration increases in the next three years, to 350,000 per year by 2021.
A Municipal Nominee Program and abolishing the citizenship application fee will be cornerstones of the Liberal Party’s immigration policy if they win the upcoming election.
The survey also revealed ‘confusion and significant misperceptions’ about the number of immigrants Canada welcomes, and where they come from.
One of the most striking results was that two-third of Canadian believe most immigrants come from the Middle East and North Africa region. The real number is just 12 percent.
“Canadians also overestimate the percentage of refugees the country accepts by double while underestimating the number of economic class immigrants significantly,” the Angus Reid Institute says.
The importance of irregular border crossers coming into Canada from the U.S. was also a significant finding.
Some 56 percent said the Liberal government has been too soft on asylum seekers, while only 26 percent say the on-going issue has been handled well.
The most recent figures show irregular border crossers exceeded 2018 levels in the last three months, after dropping off significantly at the start of the year.
More than 60 percent of respondents said new immigrants should be able to speak either English or French, while 38 percent were happy for them to learn after arriving.
On the immigration file, meanwhile, more respondents (28%) felt Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer was the best person for the job. Incumbent Trudeau was second with 22 percent of the vote, and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh third, with 18 percent.