Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Canada Mulls Cap on International Students amid Housing Crisis

by Antariksh Singh

In response to the escalating unemployment and housing crisis gripping Canada, Immigration Minister Marc Miller has signaled a potential cap on international students residing in the country. The move comes as the government grapples with the need to address the surge in immigration against the backdrop of a housing shortage and rising public concerns.

In a recent interview with CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, Minister Miller acknowledged the need for federal-provincial collaboration to manage the burgeoning influx of international students. While the minister did not specify the extent of the reduction in the immigration system, he emphasized the urgency of reigning in the numbers to address the strain on housing.

“This is a conversation the federal government will need to have with provincial governments to make sure that the provinces that have not been doing their jobs actually rein in those numbers on a pure volume basis,” Miller stated.

The minister expressed concern over the current volume of international students in Canada, describing it as a system that has “gotten out of control.” Miller noted that the government is considering the possibility of implementing a cap on international students to alleviate the pressure on housing in the first and second quarters of the year.

Responding to questions about the delayed consideration of a cap, Miller explained the need to analyze federal-level data before delving into specifics at the institutional level. He emphasized the importance of ensuring financial capability, verifying offer letters, and addressing the impact of surging international student numbers on various provinces.

While acknowledging that a cap would not be a universal solution to Canada’s housing shortages, Miller stressed the need to strike a balance between housing demands and the imperative of lowering the average age of the workforce.

“The pressing need to bring down the average age of the workforce also needs to be taken into consideration,” Miller said.

The federal government has faced criticism for maintaining high immigration targets, both permanent and temporary, amid the acute housing shortage in the country. Recent reports from The Canadian Press, citing internal documents obtained through an access to information request, reveal that public servants warned the government two years ago about the potential impact of ambitious immigration targets on housing affordability.

The Liberal government has set ambitious targets of welcoming 485,000 immigrants in the current year, with plans to increase the numbers to 500,000 in 2025 and 2026. The surge in temporary residents, particularly international students and migrant workers, has contributed significantly to the immigration equation, with over 300,000 arriving in Canada in just the third quarter of the previous year.

Minister Miller concluded by stating that discussions regarding the potential cap on international students would take place around the negotiating table, considering the financial needs of academic institutions and the broader impact on housing and workforce demographics. The government remains committed to finding a balanced and sustainable approach to immigration amidst the pressing challenges facing the nation.

Antariksh Singh

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