Cross country check1:51:49Is it fair to increase immigration when housing is scarce?
Ankita Goel was optimistic when she decided to leave her management consulting job in Mumbai in 2019 to follow her husband to Vancouver, where he already had a job in the tech sector.
Four years later, the cost of living in the city makes her regret her choice.
“Housing is unaffordable, groceries are going up, rent is going up and that’s making me seriously consider moving out of Vancouver,” Goel said. Cross country check.
“I feel like it’s unfair to new immigrants who leave their community behind, who leave jobs in their home country, who leave and everything and come to a new place, and then everything becomes very difficult for them.”
Goel said she is definitely not alone and hears similar reservations from other newcomers she knows from India.
Inflation in Canada shows no signs of slowing and the cost of rents and mortgages continues to rise, leading to an affordable housing crisis across the country.
At the same time, the federal government has increased its immigration goals and aims to incorporate 500,000 permanent residents per year by 2025. Those numbers don’t necessarily include migrant workers and international students, who are looking for housing.
Christopher Ragan, director of the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University in Montreal, said Cross country check who thinks it’s pretty obvious that the government sees immigration as key to Canada’s economic growth.
“If you’re going to significantly increase the annual flow of immigrants – and that’s exactly what this administration has done – then I think you really have to make sure that all the other pieces of the puzzle are working in the same direction,” Ragan said.
Vik Singh, assistant professor of global management studies at Metropolitan University of Toronto’s Ted Rogers School of Management, said high-skilled immigrants looking to move to Canada may start to think twice if the housing crisis doesn’t improve.
“Definitely, because they probably have better options. They have the ability to go to other countries if they really want to live there,” he said.
Committed to immigration objectives: minister
Goel said part of the reason he is staying in Canada is because he is waiting to get his Canadian passport, which will make it easier to apply for a Canadian passport. H-1B Visa so you can work in the United States.
“I know there’s gun crime and stuff, but it’s a lot cheaper and there’s a lot of places you can buy houses there,” he said.
Singh said he understands the logic of this approach: “If you look at the process of going to the United States, it’s much easier if you have a Canadian passport.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and a rise in inflation driving up the cost of living have created a data lag in tracking newcomers’ sense of satisfaction with Canadian housing options, he said.
Statistics Canada’s most recent housing survey was conducted between October 2022 and March of this year, but has not yet been released.
Market research firm Leger surveyed the attitudes of new immigrants last year and found 87 percent recommend Canada but that the high cost of living was the most common reservation.
“I’ve heard anecdotal stories about people wanting to leave Canada, but the aggregate numbers we’re seeing at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are completely the opposite,” said Immigration Minister Marc Miller. Cross country Check.
“We have the highest demand we have ever seen in a country like ours.”
Miller said he doesn’t think Canada will back down on its immigration goals.
Linking immigration and infrastructure
Singh said he believes more work needs to be done to link immigration to current economic realities.
“Maybe there could be ways to encourage new immigrants to enter the skilled trade sector because there are jobs available there. And there are certainly jobs available virtually everywhere in Canada.”
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation concluded that Canada needs 3.5 million more homes, in addition to what is already being built, to restore housing affordability. a report of TD Economics launched in the summer found that Canada’s current level of immigration would only widen the housing deficit over the next two years.
“When I hear Minister Marc Miller say there’s no chance of them reducing immigration numbers… I think that’s fine, as long as you have a serious plan to address those other problems. We’re not convinced that there is such a plan.” serious,” said Ragan, of McGill University.
Miller said there is work to be done to improve Canada’s immigration system, especially when it comes to digitizing the process, but he believes the blame for the housing crisis has little to do with immigration.
“Successive governments, Liberal or Conservative, have underfunded this critical area, and this is something that should not be blamed on immigrants. The debt free we have seen for the best part of a decade is no longer a present reality.” he said, referring to low interest rates.
Obstacles to finding housing
Syed Hussan, executive director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, said he also believes scapegoating new Canadians for the housing crisis ignores the underlying problems. When immigration slowed during the pandemic, he said, housing prices still rose.
“I think we need the federal and provincial governments to get back to building housing. What’s happened over the last 30 years is it’s been left to private players, and private players have failed,” he said. Cross country check.
Even getting housing is a challenge for many newcomers.
“We go and show them units, and they’re very surprised at what they’re going to get for their money here in Winnipeg. So that’s really discouraging,” said Codi Guenther, executive director of New Journey Housing. Cross country check.
He said the newcomers he works with to find housing face all kinds of obstacles, from a lack of rental history and rental endorsements to the size of the units they need and the fact that they often don’t have letters of approval. employer reference. .
Even with those difficulties, Guenther said most newcomers persevere and are positive about Canada and the opportunities it could create, especially for their children.
Ankita Goel has been through a lot during her time in Vancouver, including being spat on in public during the pandemic, but she said she still believes the city has a lot to recommend it if only the cost of living were addressed.
“If it weren’t so expensive, if it weren’t for unaffordable housing, it would easily be a world-class city to live in.”