'Out of control': Canada mulls cap on international students due to housing crisis

A sizeable chunk of international students in Canada are from India

canada-flag-canadian-flag-reu Representation

Canada is considering the possibility of putting a cap on the number of international students living in Canada, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said on Saturday. Though he didn't mention how big the reduction will be, Miller said the system has "gotten out of control."

Miller told Canada's CTV News that the federal government will take up the issue with provincial governments. "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, in reference to the number of international students in Canada. "It's really a system that has gotten out of control."

Miller's statement comes as the country faces a housing and employment crisis. Local media reports claim that the federal government was warned by public servants two years ago that its ambitious immigration targets could jeopardise housing affordability. "In Canada, population growth has exceeded the growth in available housing units," their report said.  

The country's population grew by more than 430,000 during the third quarter of 2023, marking the fastest pace of population growth in any quarter since 1957.  Public opinion polls also show Canadians are increasingly concerned about the pressure immigration is putting on services, infrastructure and housing, leading to waning support for high immigration.

Official data show there were more than 800,000 foreign students with active visas in 2022, up from 275,000 in 2012. Of these, a sizable chunk are Indians, though the number has come down drastically. Between July and October 2023, the Canadian government processed nearly 87,000 new study permit applications for Indian nationals though this is over 40 percent less than the same period in 2022.

According to Miller, the government will monitor both the first and second quarter of this year at possibly set a cap on international students to help reduce the demand for housing.

On why the government was considering this now, Miller said there’s a need to sort out numbers on a federal level before looking into individual academic institutions at different provinces, possibly profiting off bringing in more international students. "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.

"And now it's time for us to have a conversation about volumes and the impact that that is having in certain areas."


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