Sean Fraiser, the Housing Minister of Canada, has raised concerns about the escalating cost of housing in the country and hinted at the possibility of restricting visas for international students as a potential solution. The issue came to light during an interaction with the press on Monday, August 21, while he was attending a cabinet retreat in Prince Edward Island within the Atlantic province, as reported by Reuters.
In response to queries about the Canadian government’s stance on managing the influx of international students, Fraiser expressed openness to exploring various options, including the imposition of limitations on student numbers. He acknowledged that the rapid expansion of temporary immigration programs had outpaced their original design, resulting in unforeseen challenges within a condensed timeframe.
The statistical data underscores the scale of the situation. In 2022, the count of foreign students holding active visas had surged to more than 800,000, a remarkable jump from 275,000 in 2012. This growth is attributed to Canada’s appeal as a favored destination for global students, facilitated by the relatively accessible pathways to work permits.
Having previously served as the immigration minister, Fraser is acutely aware of the strain exerted by this burgeoning student population on certain housing markets. The mounting pressure has sparked debates, with the Conservative Party—the main opposition—holding a lead in pre-election surveys slated for the federal election due by October 2025. Criticisms from the Conservative Party suggest that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has yet to enact adequate measures to alleviate the housing predicament.
Despite the ongoing discourse, Canada, with its approximate population of 39.5 million, intends to welcome an unprecedented 500,000 new permanent residents by 2025. Fraiser, however, maintains that simply curbing the number of newcomers is not the comprehensive solution required to address the complex housing challenge at hand.