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New survey finds Canadians can’t cope with increasing numbers of international students

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A new online survey done out of Toronto shows Canadians believe there are too many international students, which has directly correlated with issues like housing.


The survey “International Students, Understanding Canada Opinions” was conducted by Navigator from a sample of 1,500 random adults in Canada.


The main results from the survey find 58 per cent of Canadians feel there are too many international students studying in Canada, up nine percentage points from a similar survey conducted in October 2023. The survey also shows 61 per cent agree so many international students are being admitted into Canada due to mismanaged finances by post-secondary institutions in the country.


While the slight majority of respondents are in support of the new international student cap (52 per cent), 51 per cent of Canadians who took part in the survey feel programs like health care — followed by agriculture and science — should be exempt from that rule.


“This is not surprising,” says Saint John Newcomers Centre managing director Mohamed Bagha on the survey’s findings. “However, we are in times of growth in Atlantic Canada and we are dealing with challenges of growth. These are much better challenges to deal with than to deal with challenges of decline.”


Bagha notes the survey does not make note of all the benefits international students have brought to their communities. He makes specific note of how they have helped fill gaps in the labour market, helped fill the regions schools, and created more investment opportunities for their communities.


“Our region has been one of the last regions to grow in Canada,” Bagha claims. “And today it is growing because of newcomers to Canada, including international students.”


The survey also found respondents believe there is a direct correlation between the housing crisis and immigration. Sixty-six per cent of those who took part in the survey believe Canada cannot cope with the recent increases, including the high number of international students admitted who stay in the country following their education.


“We need investment, and we need increased housing supply in the market,” Bagha says in response to the idea newcomers are to blame for the housing problem. “The last time we saw a population surge anything like we are seeing in Canada today, or rather the surge in housing, was back in the Second World War. I think it’s time we start looking at how can we create more opportunities to increase the housing supply and to create favourable investment opportunities.”


Bagha adds smaller communities in Atlantic Canada depend on younger demographics for growth. He says a large chuck of the young demographic within towns and cities across the region is international students who decide to set down their roots following their education. 

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