Ottawa: Amid the growing unemployment and housing crisis in Canada, Immigration Minister Marc Miller on Saturday said in the next few months, he will be looking at the possibility of putting a cap on the number of international students living in the country, CTV News reported on Saturday.
The minister didn’t specify the extent of reduction the government is planning on making in the immigration system.
In an interview to CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, the minister said, “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.”
“That volume is disconcerting,” Miller said, with reference to the number of international students in Canada.
“It’s really a system that has gotten out of control,” he added.
Miller said he will be looking at the possibility of setting a cap on international students to help reduce the demand for housing in both the first and second quarters of this year.
Asked why his government is only considering a cap now when the idea was floated months ago, Miller said there’s a need to sort out numbers on a federal level before looking with “a little more granularity” at what individual academic institutions are doing in different provinces, possibly profiting off bringing in more international students, CTV News reported.
“We need to be doing our jobs and making sure that we have a system that actually makes sure people have a financial capability to come to Canada, that we’re actually verifying offer letters,” Miller said, adding, “And now it’s time for us to have a conversation about volumes and the impact that is having in certain areas.”
A cap on international students would not be a “one-size-fits-all solution” to housing shortages across Canada, Miller noted.
On the number of international students coming to Canada, far outpacing the number of homes the federal government is planning to help build, Miller also said housing is only part of the calculation when it comes to immigration targets. The pressing need to bring down the average age of the workforce also needs to be taken into consideration, he said.
While not going into specifics, Miller said a cap on international students is something the federal government is considering, “and will continue to consider.”
“We have a sense of what those numbers would look like, what the reduction of those numbers look like, out of courtesy to my colleagues in the provinces, those are discussions that we’re first going to have around the negotiating table,” he said, adding that the financial needs of academic institutions is also a factor.
The federal government has faced criticism for welcoming an increasing number of immigrants–both permanent and temporary residents–while the country faces an acute housing shortage.
Meanwhile, CTV reported citing The Canadian Press, which cited the internal documents obtained through an access to information request, the federal government was warned by public servants two years ago that its ambitious immigration targets could jeopardise housing affordability.
The Liberals have set targets aiming to bring in 485,000 immigrants this year, and 500,000 in both 2025 and 2026.
Temporary residents, largely comprising international students and migrant workers, are another part of the equation, with more than 300,000 of them arriving in Canada in just the third quarter of last year.