Canada’s Housing Minister and former Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, has suggested that the federal government may reevaluate the country’s historically high immigration targets in light of the ongoing housing crisis.
Balancing Ambition and Capacity: In an interview, Fraser expressed the government’s desire to maintain ambition in immigration while ensuring better alignment with communities’ absorptive capacity. He emphasized that this includes factors such as housing, healthcare, and infrastructure.
Review of Temporary Immigration Programs: Fraser also highlighted the need for a review of temporary immigration programs, which currently operate without caps based on demand. While this doesn’t necessarily mean reducing the number of newcomers, it calls for careful consideration of immigration targets through consultation with other levels of government and institutions responsible for housing newcomers.
Immigration and Housing Supply: Fraser stressed that the immigration review should not be the sole focus; efforts to increase housing supply should go hand-in-hand with addressing housing challenges. He acknowledged that immigration remains a significant advantage for Canada in the global economy.
Historically High Immigration Targets: Canada’s current immigration targets, introduced by Fraser last year, aim to welcome approximately 500,000 newcomers annually until 2025. Initially intended to address labor shortages and boost economic prosperity, these targets have faced scrutiny for their role in exacerbating the housing crisis.
Warnings from Experts: Experts from various fields have cautioned against Canada’s high-growth immigration strategy’s impact on housing. A report from July estimated that continuing the current immigration strategy could lead to a housing shortfall of half a million units in two years. Some have called for a cap on international student immigration as part of addressing the housing issue.
The government’s consideration of immigration adjustments reflects the complex interplay between Canada’s immigration policies and housing challenges. Balancing ambition and capacity remains a priority for policymakers.