Toronto, ON — With stories of migrants from the U.S. walking illegally across the border in Manitoba and Quebec making headlines in recent weeks, public opinion on the issue appears to be at odds with the rules governing the treatment of these migrants. The latest Ipsos poll for Global News shows that not only are Canadians divided on how migrants should be treated on entering the country, but very few agree with Canada’s current approach to dealing with them — that migrants who cross illegally are permitted to seek refugee status once detained by authorities, but those who cross at a legal port of entry are ineligible to apply for refugee status.
- The survey finds that a slim majority of Canadians (52%) think that all migrants crossing into Canada from the United States should be treated equally, regardless of whether they entered Canada legally or illegally.
- Among those who think all migrants should be treated equally, most (76%) think all should be eligible to apply for refugee status and stay in Canada if successful in the application. The remainder (24%) feel the opposite: that all migrants should be ineligible to apply for refugee status and returned to the United States.
- The other half of Canadians (48%) believe that migrants crossing into Canada from the United States should be treated differently depending on whether their entry to Canada was legal or illegal.
- A significant majority of this group (83%) support the opposite of the current rules, in that migrants arriving illegally should be sent back to the United States, while those arriving legally should be permitted to apply for refugee status. This leaves a remaining 17% who favour the current rules, which state that migrants arriving in Canada legally cannot apply for refugee status and must be sent back to the US, while those arriving illegally are permitted to seek refugee status.
When examining the choice of Canadians among the four options presented, the preference for Canada’s current laws on migrants from the U.S. seeking refugee status is low:
Despite the prevalence of news coverage about the migrants crossing the border in recent weeks, many Canadians say they did not know the rules governing which migrants can seek refugee status: More than half (55%) say they were aware of the rules (21% very /34% somewhat), while nearly half (45%) were not aware (22% not at all /23% not very).
Those not aware of the current rules are significantly more likely to oppose them (46%) – that is, to think that only those entering legally should be allowed to seek refugee status, while those crossing illegally should be turned back – compared to Canadians already aware of the rules (35%).
This is not to say that the lack of awareness among some has created a situation of indifference. In fact, only a minority (44%) agrees (10% strongly/34% somewhat) that people are making far too much about the issue of illegal migrants coming into Canada from the U.S. and that it’s a small number of people and is really no big deal. A majority (56%) of Canadians disagree (22% strongly/34% somewhat) that the issue is no big deal.
Views on Migration and Border Security
The poll reveals that Canadians are mixed on the security of Canada’s border and the implications of the current situation:
- Six in ten (59%) agree (15% strongly / 44% somewhat) that Canada’s border security is as strong as it needs to be to protect both our sovereignty and the personal safety of Canadians, but four in ten (41%) disagree (13% strongly/28% somewhat).
- Only four in ten (43%) agree (12% strongly/31% somewhat) that having a long, unprotected border with the United States is a positive thing for Canada, while a majority (57%) disagrees (18% strongly/39% somewhat) that it is.
- Half (53%) agree (10% strongly /43% somewhat) that the Trudeau Government has taken the right approach to managing the flow of illegal migrants to Canada from the U.S. Conversely, half (47%) disagree (19% strongly/28% somewhat).
On the issue of refugees and immigration:
- Seven in ten (70%) disagree (24% strongly/45% somewhat) that Canada’s immigration laws are too strict and keep immigrants that should be allowed into Canada from entering, while just three in ten (30%) agree (6% strongly/24% somewhat) that the laws are too strict.
- Six in ten (58%) agree (13% strongly/46% somewhat) that refugees are ultimately positive contributors to Canada’s economy, while four in ten (42%) disagree (13% strongly/28% somewhat).
- A majority (64%) disagrees (26% strongly /39% somewhat) that Canada should accept many more refugees than we do now, while only one in three (36%) agree (7% strongly/29% somewhat).
- Six in ten (59%) disagree (23% strongly/36% somewhat) that the people who say that Canada needs to refuse refugees from the United States are basically anti-immigrant and probably racist, while four in ten (41%) agree (9% strongly/33% somewhat) with this position.
Those aware of current Canadian rules governing which migrants may seek refugee status are significantly more likely than those not aware to agree that:
- Refugees are ultimately positive contributors to Canada’s economy: 62% vs. 54%
- People are making far too much about the issue of illegal migrants: 48% vs. 39%
Having a long, unprotected border with the US is positive for Canada: 48% vs. 36%
- People who say we need to refuse refugees from the US are basically anti-immigrant and probably racist: 46% vs. 35%
- Canada should accept many more refugees than we do now: 42% vs. 28%
- Canada’s immigration laws are too strict: 35% vs. 24%.
Similarly, those who believe that all migrants crossing into Canada from the United States should be treated equally are more likely to agree with nearly all the statements, compared to those who feel migrants should be treated differently depending on whether they arrived in Canada legally or illegally.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between March 22 and March 23, 2017, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ - 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
For more information on this news release, please contact:
Darrell Bricker, PhD
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 416 324-2001
About Ipsos Public Affairs
Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.
Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In Canada, the U.S., UK, and internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.
Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.
With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media, customer loyalty, marketing, public affairs research, and survey management.
Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.
Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,669.5 ($2,218.4 million) in 2014.