The Canadian government, under pressure over the rising cost of housing, could consider capping foreign student visas, which have rocketed in recent years, new Housing Minister Sean Fraser said on Monday.
Official data show there were more than 800,000 foreign students with active visas in 2022, up from 275,000 in 2012. Canada is a popular destination for international students since it is relatively easy to obtain a work permit.
Fraser, who was immigration minister before taking up his job last month, said the sharp rise in the number of students was putting pronounced pressure on some housing markets.
Asked whether a cap could be imposed on the number of foreign students, he said, “I think that is one of the options that we ought to consider.” The government has not yet made a decision, he added.
“We’ve got temporary immigration programs that were never designed to see such explosive growth in such a short period of time,” Fraser told reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet retreat in the Atlantic province of Prince Edward Island.
The official opposition Conservative Party, ahead in the polls of a federal election which must be held by October 2025, say the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not doing enough to tackle the housing issue.
Canada, which has a population of around 39.5 million people, plans to take in a record 500,000 new permanent residents in 2025. Fraser said limiting the number of newcomers was not the answer.