Canada’s Immigration policy has been taking flak in recent months, with many blaming it for the housing crisis. While the scrutiny is not unwarranted and partly true, the blame game has led to many unfounded rumours and a rise in discriminatory attitudes against immigration and newcomers.
The article delves into the reality of Canadian immigration, its impact on the housing crisis, and whether the Canadian government will try to curb newcomer numbers.
Current Immigration targets
The Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 aims to welcome 410,000 to 505,000 new permanent residents from various programs managed by the IRCC and provinces in 2023.
Immigration so far in 2023
By June 2023, Canada had already invited 232,120 new permanent residents and is on track to surpass the targets set in the Immigration Levels Plan.
The country also witnessed a landmark occasion in June when its population passed the 40 million mark.
Immigration and its impact on the housing market
A TD Economics report on “Balancing Canada’s Pop in Population,” published in July 2023, addressed Canada’s 1.2 million population bloom over the last 12 months and the impact it could have on many aspects of the economy.
The report claimed that maintaining Canada’s high-growth immigration strategy could widen the housing supply gap by over half-million units within two years.
It was also skeptical of the government’s policy to accelerate housing construction, saying it was unlikely to offer a solution due to the short time period and natural lags when adjusting supply.
The report advised the Canadian government to strike the right balance to allow economic and social infrastructures to absorb the population growth.
The CMHC also reported that Canada needed an extra 3.5 million housing units by 2030 to restore affordability.
Will Canada decrease Immigration targets to address the housing crisis
The short answer is No.
The new IRCC Minister, Marc Miller, stated that Canada cannot reduce its annual immigration levels. He parroted the stance of his predecessor, Sean Fraser, who viewed newcomers as a solution to the housing crisis. According to the new IRCC chief, the country’s housing crisis “absolutely cannot” be solved without the aid of new skilled immigrants to build new homes.
The goal was to enhance the aging labour force with more newcomers in skilled trades who could help Canada ramp up its housing construction.
Canada’s labouring construction sector
Canada faces a construction labour shortage with 80,000 vacancies that contribute to the sector’s low productivity and inability to cope with the demand for more houses.
The need to welcome more construction labour directly ties into the CMHC’s suggestion of 3.5 million new housing units by 2030 to restore affordability in the Canadian housing market.
Canada welcoming more workers in the construction sector?
Trade occupations, including carpentry, plumbing, welding, contractor work, etc., were among the listed categories for Canada’s new Category-based Express Entry draws. The new system allows Canada to pick and choose candidates from specific categories that are much-needed within Canada.
The placement of trade professions within this category suggests that the government is already making moves to boost the country’s lagging housing supply.
The first category-based draw for Trade professions was held on August 3, 2023, with over 1,500 invitations issued to candidates with a minimum CRS score of 388.
Cap on International students numbers?
International students were the only category the government was willing to consider placing a cap on. The move was primarily due to the recent revelations of fraud and irregularities among colleges and immigration consultants.
The move is yet to gain traction, with Quebec already rejecting the suggestion and the Colleges and Institutes Canada opposing the move.