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"Canada Caps Foreign Student Visas amid Soaring Living Costs and Housing Pressures"
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On Monday, Canada announced a two-year cap on international student visas to alleviate the strain on housing, healthcare, and other services amidst record immigration.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller stated that there would be a 35% reduction in new study visas in 2024. He highlighted that institutions offering “sham” degrees had exploited the international student program, contributing to housing and healthcare pressures.

“We need to rein it in,” Miller remarked.

The government will cap the number of new visas at 364,000, down from nearly 560,000 issued last year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet retreat in Montreal will prioritize affordability and housing, according to a government statement.

Currently, there are about 1 million foreign students in Canada, a number expected to keep growing without intervention. This figure is over three times what it was a decade ago.

With housing pressures mounting, officials have been working to stabilize the annual influx of people into the country.

Canada’s population grew by approximately 1 million last year, reaching a record 40 million. Many Canadians are grappling with increased living costs, including rents and mortgages.

“You cannot bring in 1.25 million people a year but only create 300,000 homes on average and think you’re not going to have a structural problem on housing,” noted TD Bank Group chief economist Beata Caranci at the Economic Club of Canada’s 2024 Annual Economic Outlook earlier this month.

Miller highlighted unscrupulous schools that accept high tuition fees from foreign students without providing a quality education. Some students use these schools as a means to gain permanent residency in Canada.

“It is not the intention of this program to have sham commerce or business degrees that are sitting on top of a massage parlor that someone doesn’t even go to and then they come into the province and drive an Uber,” Miller stated.

The leader of the opposition Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, criticized Trudeau for granting study permits to students attending fake schools.

“People are still somewhat shell-shocked and responding to the steep inflationary increases of the past,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto.

“There is some debate over the impact of immigration and the massive increase in foreign students on the housing market and rents. The overall view of economists and the public is that there is a connection. The student influx has largely impacted rents and not house prices as few students buy houses.”

Wiseman suggested that immigration targets would remain high if the opposition Conservatives win the next election, likely in 2025.

“The policies are driven by economic realities – an aging population dependent on government-funded social services such as health care,” he added.

Piers Potter

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