Housing: Fraser likes Poilievre’s idea, but…
TORONTO – Liberal Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser likes Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s idea of linking the number of immigrants in Canada to the number of homes built. “Is it a good idea to link the number of people arriving in Canada to the number of available homes? Yes. In fact, it’s one of the factors we’ve looked at over the last few years,” Fraser said Monday, while unveiling new housing in Halifax.
However, the minister specified that the problem is mainly linked to international students: “We must bring other actors to our table, not only the provincial counterparts but also those institutions that are drastically increasing the number of study permits requested, sometimes to a financial advantage staff of those people behind the private colleges”.
Last Friday, at a press conference in Winnipeg, Poilievre accused Minister Fraser of “failing to establish the link between the constructed case number and population growth” in his previous role as Immigration Minister (now held by Mark Miller). “Obviously you have to build houses if you want to attract people and right now we are not building enough houses,” Poilievre told reporters.
The 2022 documents obtained by the Canadian Press show – as we wrote in recent days: read it here – that employees of the Department of Immigration had already warned the federal government at the time that the increase in immigration had had repercussions on housing, but The Liberals ultimately decided to increase the number of permanent residents anyway, bringing them up to half a million in 2025. They defended their decision by saying Canada needs more newcomers to help fill a critical labor shortage.
Now, while Fraser says he supports the idea of connecting newcomers and housing construction, he simultaneously accuses Poilievre of having a “lack of understanding” of the immigration system and what is actually driving the “ rapid population growth.” Fraser states that in fact temporary immigration programs (international students primarily, but also temporary workers) are putting pressure on the housing system and creating a “serious problem that we need to address”.
The federal government is considering a cap on international students, but is trying to involve the provinces to try to find solutions. Time, however, is running out because the housing crisis is becoming more serious every day and “if the Provinces and Territories cannot do it, we will do it for them and they will not appreciate the crudeness of the tools we will use”, said the current federal minister of Immigration, Mark Miller.
Fraser in turn stated that the international student program has grown “by hundreds of thousands of people every year” in the last two years, because “there are some institutions in some parts of this country – he reiterated – that were created only to exploit the program for the personal financial gains of those behind these schools.”
Meanwhile, next week there will be yet another “retreat” (for three days) of the federal government in Montreal to talk about this emergency.
In the photo above, Minister Sean Fraser (from Twitter X – @SeanFraserMP)