The majority of Canadians support government efforts to help Rohingya refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar, but the country is divided over how to handle asylum seekers illegally entering from the United States, a new Nanos Research survey conducted for CTV News suggests.

When asked how welcoming the Canadian government should be to asylum seekers crossing into the country from the U.S., almost half of respondents, or 43 per cent, said “less welcoming.”

That response was followed by “continue its current approach” at 36 per cent, “more welcoming” at 14 per cent and “unsure” at six per cent.

Nearly half of male respondents and those living in the Prairies also answered “less welcoming” while female respondents, those aged 18 to 34, and residents of Quebec were the most supportive of asylum seekers.

More than 30,000 asylum seekers have been intercepted by the RCMP along the Canada-U.S. border since Jan. 2017, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The vast majority of those people, or 93 per cent, entered through Quebec.

When asked about Canadian law enforcement presence along the border to deal with such illicit crossings, the majority of survey respondents, or 57 per cent, said there is “too little presence.”

Just under one third of respondents, or 29 per cent, answered “right amount of presence” while 12 per cent were “unsure” and two per cent replied there is “too much” law enforcement presence along the world’s longest undefended border.

Male respondents in the Prairies aged 35 to 54 were most likely, at over 60 per cent, to state that there is not enough law enforcement presence to deal with “irregular” crossings.

In addition to boosting RCMP presence between official border crossings, in recent months the Canadian government has also dispatched military personnel and relocated border security officers to deal with the unprecedented influx of asylum seekers into the country.


More than six in 10 Canadians support accepting Rohingya refugees to Canada, much as the country has welcomed Syrian refugees, according to the survey, with 37 per cent answering “support” and 25 per cent answering “somewhat support.”

Fourteen per cent answered “somewhat oppose” while 18 per cent answered “oppose.” Only six per cent of respondents were unsure.

The highest level of support came from female respondents and those in Quebec, while male respondents and those in the Prairies were the least supportive of accepting Rohingya refugees.

In his April report on the Rohingya crisis, Bob Rae, Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar, stated that “Canada should signal a willingness to welcome refugees from the Rohingya community in both Bangladesh and Myanmar.”

Nearly seven out of ten Canadians are supportive of the federal government providing aid money to Rohingya refugees.

When asked about their level of support for the Canadian government spending $150 million in international aid money to assist Rohingya refugees, 42 per cent responded “support,” 27 said “somewhat support” while 14 per cent each said “oppose” or “somewhat oppose.” Four per cent said they were “unsure.”

In May, the Canadian government announced that it was earmarking $300 million over the next three years ( to respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis facing the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh. In his report, however, Rae recommended that Canada contribute double that number over a four year period.


The survey was conducted between May 30 and June 3, using an RDD dual frame (landline and cellphone) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 adult Canadians. The margin of error was ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.