Surge in temporary immigrants beyond Canada’s capacity to ‘absorb’: Trudeau – Hindustan Times

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Toronto: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged on Tuesday that the surge in temporary immigrants to the country was “beyond” what it was “able to absorb” and said his government wanted to get those numbers down.
Responding to questions at an unrelated event in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Trudeau said, “Over the past few years, we’ve seen a massive spike in temporary immigration whether its temporary foreign workers or whether its international students, in particular, that have grown at a rate far beyond what Canada has been able to absorb.”
He said that in 2017, the percentage of the overall population comprising temporary immigrants was just 2, but it has ballooned to 7.5% presently.
“That’s something we need to get back under control,” he said, adding his government wanted to “get those numbers down” and they “caused so much pressure in our communities”.
The jump in immigration numbers has caused a housing affordability crisis in Canada, while also impacting services and infrastructure and has contributed to the plummeting political fortunes of Trudeau and the ruling Liberal Party.
At the time Trudeau first came into office, in 2015, the number of international students totalled 219,035, of whom Indians with study permits were at 31,920. Both those numbers have surged since, with 684,385 study permits issued in 2023, with 278,860 Indians among them. Similarly for temporary foreign workers, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), there were just 1,955 in 2015, including 155 from India. In 2023, those numbers sharply escalated to 167,65 and 24,330 respectively.
Under pressure, the government has attempted to temper the numbers. On March 21, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller announced the government’s target to “decrease in our temporary residents population to 5% over the next three years.”
In January, IRCC announced it will implement an intake cap on the number of applications accepted for study permits for international students which is expected to result in a reduction of 35 per cent in those numbers this year as compared to 2023. “For 2024, the cap is expected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, a decrease of 35% from 2023,” IRCC noted in a release at the time.

Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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