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In search of solutions to the housing shortage plaguing the country, Ottawa finally imposes a national cap on the number of foreign students accepted into Canada for two years.

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller made the announcement Monday morning, during the Trudeau government cabinet retreat in Montreal.

With this measure, approximately 360,000 study permits will be granted in 2024, a decrease of 35% compared to 2023.

In 2022, more than 800,000 international students had temporary study visas. Last fall, Mr. Miller indicated that this figure would reach 900,000 in 2023, a record in the history of the country and more than triple that of just ten years ago.

“These temporary measures will be in effect for two years and the number of new study permit applications that will be accepted in 2025 will be reassessed at the end of this year,” explained Minister Miller in a briefing.

Graduate, master's and doctoral students, as well as primary and secondary studies, are not affected by this cap. The latter will also not apply to current study permit holders, it is specified.

The leader of the opposition, Pierre Poilievre, insists that the solution to the housing crisis must be mathematical: we cannot admit more immigrants than there are new constructions.

Ottawa “misses its target”

This cap will also be weighted for each province based on population “for the sake of fairness”. Ontario, for example, will have to reduce the number of permits by 50%, Miller said.

The Legault government will have the capacity to increase [the number of permits]. The same goes for the territories, Alberta and Saskatchewan. For the minister, “the problem” lies especially in provinces where “the numbers are disproportionate,” such as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and British Columbia.

“We will continue to work closely with these provinces and territories to put these measures in place, as they will be responsible for determining how the cap will be distributed among the designated educational institutions over which they have jurisdiction,” he said. -he announced.

According to the government of François Legault, the federal announcement “will only have a limited effect on the situation in Quebec”. “Once again, the federal government is missing the target,” said Quebec Immigration Minister Christine Fréchette in a written statement sent to: Devoir, Monday .

“The urgency for Ottawa is to act quickly on the asylum seekers’ file. It must better distribute the reception of these people across all provinces of Canada and reimburse Quebec for the expenses incurred in recent years,” indicated the elected CAQ representative.

In addition to capping the number of permits, international students from schools following a public-private model will no longer be eligible for a post-graduation work permit starting September 1 of this year. Students who graduate with an advanced degree will be able to apply for a 3-year work permit.

Also, only the spouses of international students enrolled in higher education programs (master's or doctoral) will now be entitled to an open work permit.

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A retreat of “incompetents”

The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada Pierre Poilievre did not miss the opportunity to criticize the retreat of the Trudeau government, accusing it of “spending a fortune” to “talk about the same things he is talking about and which he hasn't managed to do for 8 years.”

On Monday, the Conservative leader also attacked the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, present at the event. Last week, Mr. Poilievre called her and Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand “incompetent mayors” and accused them of “blocking construction sites”.

“How incompetent. One day she said that municipal housing has nothing to do with the federal government. Two days later, she said the exact opposite,” Mr. Poilievre wrote on his social media on Monday.

Housing Minister Sean Fraser did not comment on the 37% drop in housing starts in Montreal compared to 2022. “It is unbelievable for a politician to treat a mayor of incompetent. This is inappropriate,” he responded.

“Tighten the screws” on Mexican asylum seekers

Faced with the “enormous flow” of people from Mexico seeking asylum, Minister Miller believes it is time for Canada to tighten the screws on these nationals.

In a letter sent last week, Prime Minister François Legault urged his counterpart, Justin Trudeau, to curb the influx of asylum seekers, otherwise Quebec will reach its “breaking point” .

“A breaking point, I don’t know. But a turn of the screw is necessary, agreed Minister Marc Miller. Two provinces suffer disproportionately, and that is Quebec and Ontario.”

According to Mr. Miller, Ottawa is nevertheless making “an effort” to “redistribute” asylum seekers in different parts of the country.

For the moment, no decision has been taken in Ottawa, which continues its reflections on the approach to recommend. “Mexico is one of our main economic partners. So, a diplomatic approach is necessary,” he added.

“No matter what decisions we make with Mexico and other countries around the world, my job is to manage diplomatic relations. Of course, we have a good relationship with Mexico and we will continue to have one,” added Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly, also present in Montreal.

The ministers' retreat ends on Tuesday, after which all federal parties will hold caucus meetings. The parliamentary session will resume on January 29.

The new measures in brief

  • Ottawa introduces a two-year cap on international students in the country.
  • This cap will be weighted by province and territory.
  • Persons pursuing master's and doctoral studies, as well as primary and secondary studies, are not covered by this ceiling.
  • As of January 22, 2024, in order to implement the cap, each study permit application submitted to IRCC must be accompanied by a letter of attestation from the province or territory concerned.
  • International students from schools following a public-private model will no longer be eligible for a post-graduation work permit, starting September 1 this year.
  • Students who graduate from higher education will be able to apply for a 3-year work permit.
  • From now on, only the spouses of international students enrolled in higher education programs (master's or doctoral) will be entitled to an open work permit. The spouse of a foreign student at another level of education, including in a college or undergraduate program, will no longer be eligible.
  • Provinces and territories must establish a process for issuing letters of attestation to students by March 31, 2024.

With François Carabin and Marco Bélair-Cirino

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116