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Weekly Canadian Immigration News Review & IRCC Updates February 19 – 25 2024

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A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern and a skilled litigator, Lev focuses exclusively on immigration and refugee law. His immigration practice is focused on complex corporate and personal immigration and refugee law matters.
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Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers present a weekly review of all the latest news in Canadian immigration. Follow us to stay informed about recent changes, understand possible effects, and learn how this could affect you.

Ontario Universities Are Working Towards Expanding The Enrolment Of International Students 

Ontario universities want a 35% increase in international students in response to Immigration Minister Marc Miller’s cap on study permit applications. The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) aims to secure 82,250 of the 235,000 permits for prospective undergraduate students in Ontario’s 23 public universities. The COU suggests that allocations should be proportionate to each university’s enrolment share, which could bring in 28,000 international students next year and keep the undergraduate international enrolment at 20%. The cap introduced by Ottawa is intended to control housing costs, but experts are skeptical of its effectiveness against rent inflation driven by the increasing number of international students. 

RBC Economics reports that despite similar enrollment and outflow patterns, an estimated 391,000 international students will enter Canada this year, while 291,000 will graduate or expire their study permits. This results in 100,000 more international students, a 55% decrease from 2023. This increase will moderate, but not reduce, the rental housing demand due to international students. Despite the expected moderation in growth, rental demand is unlikely to decrease soon. The easing of the 20-hour work limit for international students during the pandemic has been extended until the end of April.

Ontario, British Columbia, And Quebec Maintained The Highest Immigrant Retention Rates 

The 2022 Longitudinal Immigration Database from Statistics Canada provides insights into immigrant retention trends nationwide. From 2012 to 2016, immigrants planning to settle in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta largely stayed put, boasting retention rates of 93.1%, 87.3%, and 84.5%, respectively. Quebec was next at 81.0%. Notably, Alberta experienced a 7.0% decrease from its 2012 retention rate. Other provinces and territories also declined, with Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the territories showing the most significant drops. On the other hand, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island saw an increase in 2016, while Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador held steady. 

Family-sponsored immigrants and refugees boasted the highest retention rates. However, there was a decrease in the retention rates of economic immigrants, particularly those from the Provincial Nominee Program and skilled workers. Caregivers and Canadian Experience Class candidates showed high retention. Short-term retention varied across provinces: Alberta and Manitoba remained stable, while Saskatchewan experienced a dip. Atlantic provinces, especially Nova Scotia, demonstrated an upward trend. Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec held steady with high retention rates. The prairie provinces showed a decline in short- and long-term retention, the most notable among economic immigrants.

Canada May Face A Demographic Challenge In The Near Future 

A National Bank Financial Inc. report suggests Canada is in a “population trap” where rapid population growth clashes with infrastructure capability, causing a plateau in living standards. Canada’s population growth in 2023 was 3.2%, five times the OECD average, with every province growing at least twice as fast. The housing sector illustrates this absorption challenge, with a supply deficit of one housing start for every 4.2 new working-age individuals. Even with new initiatives to boost housing supply, it would need to double to meet demand and curb cost inflation – a seemingly unattainable goal. The report indicates that population growth hinders Canada’s economic well-being, as shown by the six-year real GDP per capita stagnation. 

Canada’s capital stock per capita is predicted to fall by 1.5% in 2023 due to rapid population growth, marking Canada’s first population trap in modern history. The private non-residential capital stock to population ratio has declined for seven years. NBF suggests population growth should not exceed 300,000 to 500,000 annually to escape the trap, conflicting with the government’s immigration plan of 485,000 new PRs in 2024 and 500,000 each in 2025 and 2026. However, the government aims to stabilize immigration in response to the population trap. A 2022 report warned against high immigration’s impact on housing and services, but immigration numbers still doubled from 2015. Liberal ministers defend this by highlighting the need for post-pandemic recovery.

The Cap On Canada’s Study Permits Will Not Lead To Instant Decreases In Rent 

The Federal Government’s new limit on international study permit applications will not immediately impact the rental demand from overseas students this year. However, it is likely to cut its growth in half by 2024. If the cap remains unchanged beyond 2025, Canada may see a decrease in the number of international students requiring rental units in Canada. This initiative is one of Ottawa’s strategies to tackle housing affordability. From September 2024, the cap will restrict permits to 364,000 – almost half of the 684,000 issued in 2023. Other factors, such as returning students, enrollment rates, and permit expiry, will also influence the number of students living in Canada. 

The projection is a potential 50% decrease in new rental demand by international students by 2024, considering 97% of them rent. The international student cap will predominantly impact Ontario and British Columbia, where admissions exceed local populations. This could possibly stagnate student numbers in 2024, resulting in less demand for new rentals. Atlantic Canada might also witness a 10% decrease in student rental demand. However, Quebec and the Prairie Provinces are likely to be less impacted. Should the cap persist beyond 2025, a decline in international students could occur by 2026 due to increased student outflows, potentially easing rental market pressures. Nevertheless, institutions must devise innovative strategies to boost student housing.

Population Presents Considerable Housing Challenges In British Columbia 

British Columbia’s population is expanding at an unprecedented rate, straining the housing supply and municipal resources. Over 600,000 new dwellings are needed to restore the supply-demand balance. Most growth is from international migrants, primarily settling in Metro Vancouver, Victoria, Fraser Valley, and Central Okanagan. Despite a near-record three percent population increase last year, the housing supply fell short, causing strain and necessitating faster construction. British Columbia’s population is predicted to grow by nearly a million in eight years, leading to a projected housing shortfall of 610,000 units by 2030. 

Province’s mayors highlight the challenges of getting developers to build affordable housing and the high cost of supporting population growth. British Columbia Government legislation now requires three to six units per lot in most low-density residential areas and high-rises near 31 towns’ transit hubs. The scarcity of affordable housing has increased rental and home ownership costs, affecting the quality of life for residents. The government and local municipalities will work together to expedite the construction of new dwellings, prioritizing affordability and accessibility to ease this growing housing crisis.

Canada Experienced An Increase In Spousal Immigration In 2023 

The year 2023 marked a significant increase in the number of immigrants coming to Canada through the spousal sponsorship program, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). In comparison to the data from 2022, the surge was indeed noteworthy. In 2023, Canada opened its doors to a total of 75,185 new permanent residents who arrived through the spousal sponsorship program. This represented a substantial increase of 17.2% from the previous year when 64,145 new residents arrived via the same program. 

Interestingly, this increase in the number of immigrants through the spousal sponsorship program outpaced the overall immigration growth in Canada, which stood at 7.8% for the same year. Notably, the final quarter of 2023 alone accounted for a significant rise of 27.4% in the arrivals of spouses and common-law partners. Ontario, one of Canada’s most populous provinces, was the preferred destination for most newcomers. The province received 39,820 spouses last year, demonstrating its continued popularity among immigrants arriving through this program.

Millennials Now Outnumber Baby Boomers In Canada 

A report from Statistics Canada reveals millennials now outnumber baby boomers, making up 23% of the population. The millennial population grew by 457,354 from July 2022 to 2023, largely due to immigration, implying its pivotal role in Canada’s demographic structure. This shift also marginally lowered the average age from 41.7 to 41.6, the first drop since 1958, indicating a younger Canadian population. Immigration accounted for 96% of the total population growth from July to December 2023, highlighting its profound impact on Canada’s demographics. 

In 2022, immigrants comprised 23% of Canada’s population, most of whom were working age, reflecting the country’s multiculturalism. In 2023, a record 471,550 new residents, mainly aged 20-24, were welcomed, marking Canada’s open immigration policy. The Atlantic provinces have the oldest population, impacting social services and healthcare. Conversely, with the youngest average age, Alberta illustrates a population mainly in their working years. Despite the burgeoning millennial and immigrant population, Canada’s aging population remains a concern. Efforts to balance the demographic structure through immigration policies underscore its significance for Canada’s future economic and social landscape.

Abramovich & Tchern Immigration Lawyers specialize in providing immigration services designed to aid individuals and families in their journey to immigrate to Canada. We guide clients through the process, helping them navigate complex legal requirements and paperwork. Contact us via email or telephone to discuss your immigration needs and learn how we can assist you.

Lev Abramovich

A founding partner of Abramovich & Tchern and a skilled litigator, Lev focuses exclusively on immigration and refugee law. His immigration practice is focused on complex corporate and personal immigration and refugee law matters.