Canadian immigration levels decline as anti-immigration sentiment rises

Even though the Tories touted themselves as the party for immigrants during the last election campaign, it appears immigration levels in Canada are declining.

A Toronto Star story stated the number of permanent resident visas issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada between January and March fell 25 per cent, from 84,083 in 2010 to 63,224 this year.

Information obtained by the Star, showed a decline across the board, with visas for skilled workers down 28 per cent, family sponsored relatives down 14 per cent and refugees dropping by 25 per cent.

"It's a very sharp decline," Myer Siemiatycki, professor of politics and public administration at Ryerson University told the Star. "It begs the question: What is going on here?

"Has the government decided at the outset that they want fewer admissions? Is the tap being closed tighter?"

The data, coincidently, comes at the same time Immigration Minister Jason Kenney embarks on public consultations about the country's immigration levels.

"There's always a maximum to the number of immigrants we bring. We're maintaining very high levels, but we want to make sure that immigration is actually working for newcomers and newcomers are working in Canada," Kenney told the Calgary Herald.

"We don't want to be bringing people here to face unemployment or under-employment, we want them to fill the job shortages that exist."

If the government does indeed move forward with cutting immigration levels, it may have public support on its side. It seems anti-immigrant sentiment is rising in Canada.

A September 2010 Angus Reid poll found 46 per cent of Canadians believe immigration has a negative effect on Canada — a 5 per cent increase from 2009. Only 34 per cent of survey respondents believe immigration has a positive effect.

In 2010, Canada welcomed about 280,000 permanent residents, the highest number in more than 50 years.

(Reuters Photo)

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