Canada considers cap on international students amid housing crisis

The shortage of affordable housing for Canadian citizens has led the government to contemplate restrictions on the number of international students residing in the country.

Students of Vancouver International Film Centre, Canada.
Students of Vancouver International Film Centre, Canada. Photo courtesy: Vancouver Film School / Flickr

Canada is contemplating the imposition of a cap on the number of international students allowed to reside in the country, as revealed by Immigration Minister Marc Miller in a statement reported by CTV.

This move comes in response to growing criticism of the government amid a housing affordability crisis, a situation exacerbated by increased immigration contributing to a surge in demand for housing while construction faces challenges due to inflationary pressures.

Canada relies on immigration to stimulate its economy and support an aging population, leading Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to incrementally raise annual immigration targets. The surge in migrants and international students has been identified as a factor contributing to the housing crisis.

In an interview with CTV Question Period, Miller acknowledged the need for action and suggested that the Liberal government is contemplating a cap on international students during the first and second quarters of the current year.

He expressed concern about the sheer volume of international students in Canada, describing the current system as having “gotten out of control.” However, specific details about the extent of reduction in the number of international students were not disclosed.

Official data highlights a substantial increase in the number of foreign students with active visas, surpassing 800,000 in 2022, compared to 275,000 in 2012. Miller’s interview, shedding light on these considerations, is scheduled to be aired on Sunday.

Canada has been an attractive destination for international students due to the relatively straightforward process of obtaining work permits. The idea of capping the number of foreign student visas was previously raised by the Liberal government in August. However, Housing Minister Sean Fraser clarified that no decision had been made at that time.

Miller aims to engage in discussions with provincial counterparts to address the housing crisis and its connection to the influx of international students. The Trudeau government, after over eight years in office, has witnessed a decline in popularity, with polls indicating a significant gap behind the official opposition Conservatives led by Pierre Poilievre.

The government has faced criticism for its perceived mismanagement of the housing issue, contributing to the decline in public support for the Liberal party.

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