Address requirement needed to fix ‘out of control’ international student system in Canada, says Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown
Published January 24, 2024 at 3:10 pm
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown says Ottawa’s temporary cap on international students could help fix what he called a “broken” system, but more checks and balances are needed to make sure students have adequate housing.
Earlier this week, Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced a two-year cap on international student admissions, a move that’s expected to cut down new study visas by some 50 per cent in Ontario alone and 35 per cent across Canada.
The change comes as Canada is dealing with a housing crisis and was just the latest in an overhaul of Canada’s international student system which has seen admission scandals lead to deportations, students using food banks and cases of what the mayor said are “16 students living in a basement” or sleeping outdoors.
But for Brown, the biggest fix to the international student program isn’t about the number of students but “about making housing a requirement for acceptance.”
“That’s not the Canadian dream,” Brown said of reports that students are living in overcrowded, unsafe conditions.
And while the stop-gap measure of freezing new applications could help curb what Brown called an “out of control” international student system, the mayor says bringing in requirements linking students to a specific residential address in Canada would better protect both students from unsafe conditions and the government for fraudsters.
The mayor said there’s “no one reason” for Brampton’s housing crunch, and that placing the blame on learners from other countries is “not fair to international students.”
“The way I look at it is it’s not international students being scapegoated, it’s international students being taken advantage of,” Brown said in an interview with Insauga.com in reaction to the new cap.
Brown said he’s encouraged that Ottawa is revamping what he called its “out of control” international student policies but is still calling for more action, specifically around “associated address” for where applicants will live once arriving in Canada to prevent overcrowding and unsafe conditions.
The city is also asking the province to update its Heads and Beds levy for post-secondary institutions to have funds paid to the municipality where the student lives rather than where they attend classes – a move that councillors say could net the city $117 million every year.
Brown told Insauga.com that he’s yet to hear back from either the feds or the province on either request.
In December, the federal government announced that the cost-of-living requirement for Canadian study permit applicants will be more than doubled from $10,000 to $20,635 starting in 2024.
As part of the new cap on students, the government will also bar international learners in schools that follow a private public model from accessing postgraduate work permits as of Sept. 1.
And in a few weeks, open work permits will only be available for the spouses of students enrolled in masters and doctoral programs, as well as professional programs such as medicine and law.
Research from the Smart Prosperity Institute has shown there were more than 444,000 international students in Ontario in 2023, with those numbers counting for around 54 per cent of all international students in all of Canada and totalling more than all other provinces and territories combined.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising