Immigration cuts won’t fix Canada’s housing woes, economist says

Desjardins Group chief economist Jimmy Jean argued that merely cutting immigration levels would only result in a reduction of complaints without significantly addressing the root causes of the housing crisis.

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Cutting immigration would not resolve Canada’s housing crisis, warned Desjardins Group chief economist Jimmy Jean.

Jean’s remark followed Immigration Minister Marc Miller’s recent announcement of a 360,000 annual cap on international student numbers.

Addressing a conference on 2024 economic forecasts organized by CFA Montréal, Jean argued that merely cutting immigration levels would only result in a reduction of complaints without significantly addressing the root causes of the housing crisis, the Immigration.ca reported.

He said that the primary problem is not an excessive number of immigrants overall but the insufficient representation of immigrants in the construction sector, as highlighted by The Canadian Press.

Expressing concern about a potential shift away from the historical consensus on the benefits of immigration, Jean noted the documented economic research supporting the positive impacts of immigration in Canada and Quebec.

The ongoing debate regarding the connection between immigration and the housing problem features varying perspectives. 

Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Toni Gravelle, in a recent speech to the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, noted that the recent influx of immigrants has not contributed to overall inflation but has added pressure to the housing market, particularly in terms of rent prices in the short term.

Jean pointed out the urgent need for immigrant workers in Canada, citing Hydro-Quebec’s investment plans requiring 35,000 construction workers. 

He cited the importance of not only doing less but doing better to address the challenges faced by the nation.

“We’re not like Donald Trump saying that immigration is poisoning the nation’s blood,” said Jean.

Temporary cap

IRCC has recently introduced plans to temporarily cap the issuance of study visas for international students in 2024. 

The cap, affecting around 360,000 study permits, reflected a 35 percent decrease from the previous year, aiming to address unsustainable growth in provinces with a significant surge in the international student population. 

The cap applied nationally and at the provincial or territorial levels, with exemptions for current permit holders, renewals, and those pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees.

Effective Jan. 22, study permit applications now require an attestation letter from a province or territory, to be issued by March 31. IRCC plans to reassess the cap in 2025, indicating a commitment to regular policy reviews.

IRCC also announced changes to Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility criteria starting in September. Students in programs under curriculum licensing arrangements will no longer qualify for PGWP due to concerns related to oversight in private colleges. 

Graduates from master’s programs or short graduate-level programs will be eligible for a three-year work permit, offering increased opportunities for Canadian work experience and permanent residency transition.

IRCC said it will release further details on open work permits for spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs, excluding other levels of study, in the coming weeks.

Immigration Levels Plan

Canada has unveiled its Immigration Levels Plan for 2024-26, maintaining current immigration targets, the CIC News reported.

The plan sets a goal of admitting 485,000 new immigrants in 2024 and 500,000 each year in 2025 and 2026. The 2023 target is 465,000, following a record 437,000 new immigrants in 2022.

The plan includes adjustments to the number of immigrants admitted under various programs throughout the 2024-26 period. Economic class targets 58 percent of admissions in 2024, increasing to 60 percent in 2026. Family class targets 24 percent of admissions, with humanitarian admissions at 19 percent in 2024, decreasing to 16 percent in 2026.

Program-specific targets include 110,700 Express Entry admissions in 2024, rising to 117,500 in 2025 and 2026. Provincial Nominee Program targets 110,000 immigrants in 2024, increasing to 120,000 in 2025 and maintaining in 2026. 

The Spousal, Partner, and Children sponsorship program aims for 82,000 individuals in 2024, growing to 84,000 in 2025 and 2026. The Parents and Grandparents Program targets 32,000 immigrants in 2024, followed by 34,000 in 2025 and 2026.

The plan aims to support economic growth while addressing pressures in areas such as housing, healthcare, and infrastructure. Starting in 2026, permanent resident levels will stabilize at 500,000, allowing for successful integration and labor market enhancement. 

The government plans to recalibrate the number of temporary resident admissions to ensure system sustainability.

Under the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act, the plan serves as a guideline for the number of new permanent residents to be admitted to Canada over the next three years, categorizing them into economic, family, and humanitarian classes.

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos has been a professional journalist for five years now. She has contributed and covered stories for premier Philippine dailies and publications, and has traveled to different parts of the country to capture and tell the most significant stories happening.

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Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos

Jaleen Ramos has been a professional journalist for five years now. She has contributed and covered stories for premier Philippine dailies and publications, and has traveled to different parts of the country to capture and tell the most significant stories happening.

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