Reforms To Temporary Visa Programs Unless Provinces Act On Housing Crisis, Minister Warns

Reforms To Temporary Visa Programs Unless Provinces Act On Housing Crisis, Minister Warns
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Canada’s temporary foreign worker and international student visa programs might see significant reforms to help resolve the housing crisis unless the provinces act, Housing Minister Sean Fraser, the federal politician who was formerly Canada’s immigration minister, has warned.

“We do need to continue to look at reforms to our temporary residency programs,” Fraser reportedly said to Global News.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the numbers of the international student program and the temporary foreign worker program in recent years.”

With record-breaking immigration to Canada for several years, critics have in the past year started to blame immigrants for the dramatic rise in residential real estate prices and rents despite the Conference Board of Canada’s analysis which has determined these newcomers actually act as a brake on inflation overall  helping to resolve the labour shortages.

Conference Board vice-president Mike Burt and chief economist Pedro Antunes do, however, concede this high level of immigration does boost demand for housing.

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“Strong hiring supported income growth, and immigrants coming to Canada need places to live and spend money on all the necessities of life,” they wrote in an opinion piece in the Financial Post.

“This adds to demand pressures and is especially concerning for rental housing affordability. Such strength in underlying demographic demand is inflationary when there is so little slack in the economy. Taking in so many in such a short period of time has stretched our ability to provide settlement services, affordable housing  and other necessities.”

The latest comments by the housing minister come in the wake of a comments by Immigration Minister Marc Miller suggesting Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may impose caps on the number of temporary foreign workers and internationals students that can come to Canada unless the provinces take steps to stimulate the construction of more housing.

“It would be a mistake to blame international students for the housing crisis. But it would also be a mistake to invite them to come to Canada with no support, including how to put a roof over their heads,” Miller reportedly said.

Immigration Minister Warns Provinces To Take Action On Housing Crisis

“That’s why we expect learning institutions to only accept numbers of students that they’re able to provide for, able to house or assist in finding off campus housing. If provinces and territories cannot do this, we will do it for them and they will not like the bluntness of the instruments that we use.”

That blunt instrument could be a cap on work and study visas.

Fraser has reportedly already mentioned in August at a Liberal cabinet retreat that Canada ought to consider a cap on international study visas to lower the demand for housing.

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The immigration minister has since reportedly told Global News such a cap would be like “surgery with a hammer” but he reserved the right to take that step if the provinces do not adequately deal with the housing crisis.

Canada is expecting 900,000 international students to come study here this year but, starting in the new year, they will have to show proof of much greater settlement funds to do so.

International students who apply to come to Canada from Jan. 1, 2024, will need to see the requirement of settlement funds increase from $10,000 to more than $20,000.

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.