Canada’s housing minister says the federal government isn’t ruling out changes to its ambitious immigration targets, but maintains the country should also focus on what it can do to increase housing supply when it comes to addressing current housing challenges.
Fraser said he believes the federal government has “some work to do” with its temporary immigration programs, which currently operate on the basis of demand in an “uncapped way,” but doesn’t “necessarily” need to reduce the number of newcomers who become permanent residents each year. It’s common for almost half of those individuals to already be in Canada as temporary residents, he noted.
Before making any changes, however, Fraser said the federal government would have to consult with other levels of government — since deciding which institutions take in international students is within the purview of provincial governments — as well as institutions that have “a duty to play part of a role in housing the people who come here.” He also stressed that conversations around addressing the country’s housing crisis should not solely revolve around immigration.
“It's important that when we're looking at the answer to our housing challenges, we also focus on what we can do to increase the supply,” the minister said. “I think it's essential that we remember that immigration remains one of Canada's strongest competitive advantages in the global economy.”
Fraser introduced Canada’s ambitious immigration targets in November 2022 when he was the federal immigration minister, with a goal of bringing in 465,000 permanent residents in 2023, 485,000 in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025. At the time, he said the move was necessary to ensure Canada’s economic prosperity, by helping businesses find workers to fill in labour gaps and to attract the skills required in key sectors including health care, skilled trades, manufacturing and technology.
Academics, commercial banks, opposition politicians and policy thinkers, however, have been warning the federal government the country’s high-growth immigration strategy is exacerbating Canada’s housing crisis. In a July report, economists from TD estimated that if the current immigration strategy continues, Canada’s housing shortfall could widen by about half a million units in just two years’ time. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has estimated the country needs to build 3.5 million more homes by 2030 than it is currently on track for, to help achieve some semblance of housing affordability.