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Stopping immigration won’t fix Canada’s housing crisis

As the housing crisis in Canada continues to escalate, there has been a lot of finger-pointing and blame shifting. Foreign investors, municipal governments, and now immigrants and international students have all been targeted as contributing to the problem. Canada’s population is growing rapidly, with over a million new residents in 2022, the majority of whom are temporary and permanent immigrants. The number of international students has also increased significantly, with an estimated 900,000 expected to arrive this year. While politicians have been careful not to directly blame newcomers for the housing challenges, there have been suggestions that their influx is adding to the pressure. The federal government is considering a cap on international students and has set a goal of welcoming 500,000 new permanent residents by 2025. However, according to housing policy researcher Carolyn Whitzman, limiting immigration is not the solution. The current estimates of housing need do not take into account the millions of Canadian residents and projected newcomers, leaving us with an incomplete understanding of the situation. Whitzman emphasizes that immigrants are an easy target and that the focus on them ignores the larger issue of inadequate housing for many Canadians. Restricting immigration or international students will not address the needs of the 1.5 million households in “core housing need” or the millions of other Canadians who are not even included in this category. The housing crisis is a complex issue that cannot be solved by targeting specific groups. Instead, there is a pressing need for a national social housing program to address the growing demand for affordable and adequate housing. While it may be tempting to blame immigrants and international students, the evidence does not support this as the root cause of the housing crisis. 

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