Many Canadians think more refugees are admitted than actually are. Here’s why that’s a problem

September 26, 2019

By Global News |

Canadians are much more likely to overestimate the number of refugees the country admits every year than to underestimate it, a study shows.

Asked to guess the correct number, 61 per cent said they didn’t know, 12 per cent got the answer right (28,000), while far more overestimated the number (24 per cent) than underestimated it (3 per cent.)

Few people could give the correct number of immigrants (330,000), though they were less likely to overestimate it.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about immigration in Canada,” says University of Toronto political science professor Peter Loewen.

“By misinformation I’m not describing intentionally wrong information on immigration, but just a lot of people who are misinformed about the issue.”

The survey also showed that supporters of different parties saw different aspects of immigration as more important.

Conservatives, for example, saw national security, terrorism and illegal immigration as most important. Liberals, meanwhile, saw diversity, multiculturalism, jobs and the economy as more important.

“Partisans differ in terms of what they’re talking about when they talk about immigration,” Loewen says.

“They just have a different frame in terms of the issues that they’re using to think about and talk about immigration.”

Perhaps surprisingly, People’s Party of Canada supporters saw diversity and multiculturalism as the most important aspect of immigration, but co-author Derek Ruths said that this doesn’t necessarily mean it was seen as a positive.

“This simply indicates the actual issue, not necessarily the tone or position on that issue,” Ruths explained.

“It could well be that there’s actually negative engagement going on there.”

Ruths teaches computer science at McGill University.

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