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Immigration: the minister Miller relies on coordination

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Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller

    < li class="mt-2 flex first:mt-0">Rania Massoud (View profile)Rania Massoud

The debate on the capacity to welcome immigrants is making a comeback in Ottawa. As the country faces a serious housing shortage, federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller acknowledged Tuesday that greater “coordination” between different levels of government is needed.

What Canadians have told us very clearly [during] our strategic review of the department on our immigration plan is that we absolutely need better coordination, Mr. Miller said during a press conference in Caraquet, New Brunswick.

The wind is blowing against immigration and Canada is not exempt from the world, he added . We saw this in the polls, in Canada we are talking not about xenophobia, but about our capacity to welcome, the capacity to be coordinated.

People are angry with us for being poorly coordinated, that is to say [we must] tackle [long] waiting times […], be better coordinated with the provinces, with the cities, and ensure that there are funds to support integration and support.

A quote from Marc Miller, federal Minister of Immigration

Justin Trudeau's government has been facing great pressure for several months to alleviate the housing crisis plaguing the country. The Liberals, whose stated objective is to welcome 500,000 permanent residents per year, believe that the problem comes rather from the growing number of temporary immigrants, including international students.

According to the Department of Immigration, Canada is on track to welcome approximately 900,000 international students this year. In 2011, this number stood at just under 240,000.

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The economic contribution of these international students to Canada is also considerable, knowing that they pay tuition fees five times higher than permanent residents or Canadian citizens. In 2018, international students in Canada contributed approximately $21.6 billion to Canada's GDP and supported nearly 170,000 jobs for the Canadian middle class, according to government data.

On Tuesday, Mr. Miller reaffirmed that he plans to cap the number of international students admitted to the country and that he plans to make a more in-depth announcement in a couple of weeks.

There are a lot of challenges within our international student program, issues of fraud, integrity of the system, he said. We have a volume challenge.

This question was also raised earlier Tuesday morning, both by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and by the head of the official conservative opposition, Pierre Poilievre.

While at the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Trudeau defended the extraordinary advantage that Canada has over the rest of the world, according to him, which is that of welcoming people from all over the world to contribute to the growth of our country.

He defended the target of 500,000 new arrivals per year, saying that is the number needed to create economic growth and fill the labor shortage.

What poses a challenge, again according to Mr. Trudeau, is rather temporary residents, particularly international students and temporary workers. These are the groups that will have to be brought back under control, he said.

One of the options being considered is to hold accountable academic institutions that welcome foreign students, as well as employers who wish to hire workers from outside Canada.

We will have to [that institutions] ensure that there is accommodation for these students. Because otherwise, it puts a lot of pressure on the communities and cities in which they are located.

A quote from Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

The same logic applies to temporary workers, he adds. What are you going to do to ensure the ability of these people to find suitable housing?, he said, addressing employers. If you absolutely want to [bring in workers], you will have to have more responsibilities in relation to that.

We have more space than any other G7 country to welcome immigrants, Mr. Trudeau said. We have this capacity, but it has to be done the right way.

Between the housing crisis and the labor shortage, Mr. Trudeau says that two options are available to Canada today: Either we massively reduce our immigration targets, which will hurt [. ..] economic growth, or we find a way to build a lot more housing more quickly.

It's on this point that the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, relied on Tuesday morning to criticize the policies of the Trudeau government.

The one who presents himself as a fervent defender of common sense, believes that the problem facing the country is of a mathematical nature: matching the number of new arrivals to the number of available housing.

It's obvious that we can't invite people to come here if there is no accommodation, he said on the show Première Heure, on ICI Premiere in Quebec. Under Justin Trudeau's government, the population grew much faster than the supply of housing. So, we have fewer houses per capita today, he argues.

What I propose is that the number of immigrants [be ] linked mathematically to the number of houses and apartments built [during] the previous year. If we increase the number of houses by 2 or 3%, we can't increase our population faster than that. It's not even a question of being pro or anti-immigrant, it's a question of being pro-math.

A quote from Pierre Poilievre, leader of the official opposition

The thresholds will be calculated to ensure that population growth is less than growth housing, added Mr. Poilievre.

Questioned about Mr. Poilievre's proposal, Minister Miller said he agreed with the fact that it is obvious that we must have adequate reception capacity to accommodate new arrivals. But, according to him, it takes a plan.

Mr. Poilievre, with all due respect, is in the slogans, Mr. Miller said. So I expect a plan, but it takes serious leadership and what he is proposing is not serious.

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