Canada’s Housing Minister Sean Fraser says that the government is thinking about different ways to make housing more affordable and increase the availability of rental homes.
He says that the cap on international students allowed to come and study in Canada is one of but not the only solution to the housing crisis. Both the former IRCC Minister and the current Canadian Immigration Minister have mentioned the possibility of a cap on international students.
In this article, we’ll break down what this proposal entails, why it’s being discussed, the potential impact, and what it means for those planning to study in Canada.
Why are they thinking about Cap on International Students?
Canada is facing a housing problem right now. Houses are becoming more expensive to buy or rent, even though the government has tried to help by changing mortgage rates after the pandemic.
Many people believe that the high number of immigrants who are becoming permanent residents is making this housing issue worse. This is where the current government’s plan to have a lot of people become permanent residents comes into play.
Government Considers Cap on International Students
Recently, there was a change in the government’s cabinet. The person in charge of immigration Sean Fraser switched to housing, and a new immigration minister Marc Miller came in. People started asking uncomfortable questions, suggesting that Canada should limit the number of new immigrants.
However, they’re thinking about putting a cap on international students coming to Canada each year. This is because many students want to rent places to live while they study, and this is making house prices go up.
Will there really be a cap on international students?
Right now, the government is talking about the possibility of limiting how many international students can come to Canada. But there’s no definite plan yet. On August 21, Minister Sean Fraser mentioned that it’s something they should think about.
Then, on August 22, he talked in an interview with CTV and said that
“There’s conversations I’ve had on a range of different options with [Immigration] Minister Miller. There’s some work that we’re looking at how to better partner with institutions… but I don’t think we should be afraid to talk openly about the different options that we ought to consider.”Housing Minister Sean Fraser
Fraser added that:
“I think Canadians who are struggling to see themselves in the housing market, see a future for themselves in our community, they deserve to know that we’re looking under every stone for the solutions that exist, both on the supply and demand side of the equation.”Housing Minister Sean Fraser
“I think that is one of the options that we ought to consider. The government has not yet made a decision”Housing Minister Sean Fraser
International students actually bring in more than 10 billion dollars to Canada’s economy. With that in mind, do you think the government will really limit their number?
“The international student program is extraordinary. It serves Canada’s interests, it contributes tens of billions of dollars to our GDP, and it provides a pipeline of young and talented people who will be Canadian one day, but… the people who come need to be better supported.”Housing Minister Sean Fraser
Arguments Against Cap on International Students
One province, Quebec, has already said that a cap on international student visas won’t help the housing problem. They believe that each province should decide how many students they can handle.
Alexandre Lahaie, a spokesperson for Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette, says,
“Quebec does not intend to impose a cap on the number of foreign students in its jurisdiction. Although issuing study permits is the responsibility of the federal government, education is the exclusive power of Quebec. It’s up to Quebec and its educational institutions to determine the number of people they can accommodate.”Alexandre Lahaie, a spokesperson for Quebec Immigration Minister
Universities and colleges are already resisting discussions about cap on international students.
Colleges and Institutes Canada says,
“Although implementing a cap on international students may seem to provide temporary relief, it could have lasting adverse effects on our communities, including exacerbating current labour shortages. Furthermore, we want to emphasize that students are not to blame for Canada’s housing crisis; they are among those most impacted.”Colleges and Institutes Canada
So, the government might have a hard time putting a cap on international students. They’ll face opposition not just from the provinces, but also from schools.
What does this all mean?
Right now, Canada is getting more and more applications from international students all over the world. In the first half of 2023, Canada approved around 434,899 new international students. In 2022, there were 736,627 students approved for the whole year.
It’s clear that a lot of students are interested in studying in Canada. This interest is likely to keep growing in the coming years.
Whether it’s the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, or any other, they might have to eventually put a cap on international students coming to Canada. This is to make sure there’s enough housing for everyone.
But remember, if they do put a cap in place, it doesn’t mean they’ll stop all international students from coming. They’ll just have a specific number each year, kind of like they did in 2022-2023.