Canada is considering implementing a cap on international student admissions, a response to the escalating housing affordability crisis.
Marc Miller, Canada’s Immigration Minister, expressed concerns over the spiraling student numbers, describing the situation as “a system that has gotten out of control.”
In 2023, Canada welcomed a record-breaking number of nearly one million international students, which coincided with a 22% surge in rental costs for Canadians over the past two years, largely attributed to a severe housing shortage.
Canada is a favored destination for international students due to its relatively simple process for obtaining work permits.
In recent interviews, Miller emphasized the urgency of implementing a cap to ease the housing demand.
He refrained from specifying the extent of the proposed reduction but acknowledged that this strategy alone is not a comprehensive solution to the multifaceted housing crisis, which is further compounded by limited supply, affordability issues, and climbing interest rates.
“It isn’t immigrants that raised interest rates, but volume is volume and it’s something that we need to look at,” Miller stated in a CBC interview.
In August, Canada’s Liberal government considered capping the foreign student visa numbers. However, Housing Minister Sean Fraser stated at the time that the government had not decided on whether to pursue this option.
The housing dilemma has been a source of political pressure for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre emphasizing the need for more home construction in response to population growth.
“Obviously, you need to build homes if you’re going to bring in people,” Poilievre commented, highlighting the inadequacy of current housing developments.
The potential cap presents a dilemma for Canadian educational institutions, which depend on the higher tuition fees for international students.
Statistics from the immigration ministry reveal a dramatic 193% increase in foreign student admissions from 2012 to 2022. Projections suggest a further rise, with an expected 1.4 million study permit applications by 2027.
In addition to international students, Canada set an ambitious goal of 1.5 million new immigrants by 2025. Open immigration is integral to Canada’s strategy to counter its aging workforce.
The country’s population hit 40 million in 2023, primarily due to immigration.
However, the housing affordability crisis remains a significant challenge. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates a need for 3.5 million additional housing units by 2030 to restore affordability.
In response, the government has implemented a two-year ban on home purchases by some foreigners and pledged substantial funding towards affordable housing projects.