OTTAWA — Canada on Monday announced an immediate, two-year cap on international student permits and said it would also stop giving work permits to some postgraduate students as it seeks to rein in record numbers of newcomers seen aggravating a housing crisis.
The cap is expected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits in 2024, a decrease of 35% from 2023, according to a statement from the immigration ministry.
Immigration Minister Marc Miller said the federal government would work with the provinces, which oversee the educational system, to apply the cap.
He said the main reason for the cap is to protect students who attend colleges, which are often private-public partnerships, that provide inadequate services at high costs, but also to ease pressure on housing and services.
“Some private institutions have taken advantage of international students by operating under-resourced campuses, lacking supports for students and charging high tuition fees, all the while significantly increasing their intake of international students,” Mr. Miller told reporters.
“This increase is also putting pressure on housing, healthcare and other services,” he said, adding that fewer numbers would primarily help lower prices for rent.
Rapid population growth fueled by immigration has put pressure on services, like healthcare and education, and has helped drive up housing costs. These issues have weighed on Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s support, with polls showing he would lose an election if one were held now.
In the third quarter of last year, the population grew at its fastest pace in more than six decades, with non-permanent residents — mostly students — increasing by 312,758, the most in more than five decades.
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), a student advocacy group, criticized the cap.
“The biggest problem is that … there’s been announced a cap that is a reaction to the housing crisis,” said CASA Director of Advocacy, Mateusz Salmassi, adding that what is needed is more support and housing for international students.
The University of Toronto welcomed the announcement and said it would work with all levels of government on the allocation of study permits.
The changes are “focused on addressing abuses in the system by particular actors and are not intended to adversely impact universities such as ours,” the university said in a statement. — Reuters