Canadians welcome immigrants but don't know where they're supposed to live, research says

A report from the Department of Immigration found that Canadians feel current immigration levels are 'too much, too fast,' amid widespread affordable housing shortages.

Canadians welcome immigrants but don't know where they're supposed to live, research says
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
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While Canadians welcome immigrants, they're not sure where they are supposed to live, according to in-house research from the Department of Immigration. 

According to Blacklock's Reporter:

“Participants said their communities need to plan for accommodating more immigration and more permanent residents,” wrote federal researchers.

“They pointed to a variety of things they saw around them today that they felt were not working well and need to be addressed including housing shortages.”

...

“It is too much, too fast,” the report quoted one focus group participant. “We’re in this housing crisis,” said another. “The education system and health system are already under a great deal of stress,” said a third.

Canada's current immigration levels have quotas of 465,000 people this year and 485,000 next year. The current target for 2025 is 500,000 people. 

“Most participants felt new immigrants make their community a better place to live, expressing an appreciation for cultural diversity, for learning from and about new cultures and for the fact this was ‘the Canadian way,’” said the report, 2023 Annual Tracking Qualitative Research. The findings were based on 18 focus groups conducted across the country by Quorus Consulting Group for $119,723.

Despite positive feelings towards immigrants generally, Canadians are wondering how they will all be housed. “Gaps identified included more support finding housing,” wrote researchers.

“People are living on the street because there’s no housing,” said one respondent. “We need to get our own house in order before we welcome anybody else in.”

In a 2022 report, the federal Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimated that demand for housing is short of supply by 400,000 homes annually. Current stock is estimated at 16 million condos, townhouse and single family residents, while over 22 million units are required to achieve affordability by 2030. 

A more recent estimate by the CMHC from June found that Canada needs 3.5 million new housing units by 2030. That would require doubling the annual average of 200,000 units to nearly 400,000.

“I do worry about the structural mismatch between supply and demand in Canadian housing,” Peter Routledge, Superintendent of Financial Institutions, testified at a 2022 hearing of the Senate banking committee. “It makes it harder for younger Canadians to get in,” he added.

“We have new Canadians arriving and young Canadians leaving home and creating households with about 250,000 households being formed every year in Canada,” said Routledge. “However we’re probably completing 200,000 to 210,000 houses every year.”

In 2019 the federal government passed the National Housing Strategy Act to promote construction, but only around 106,000 homes have been built under that program to date, according to a May 5 inquiry of ministry

Meanwhile, the CMHC has managed to dole out $75 million in bonuses since 2020. 

At a recent press conference earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $64 million in funding to build and repair 214 homes in Hamilton, Ontario. At the same press conference, he remarked that housing is not a "primary federal responsibility" but something the federal government "can and must help with."

"That's funny because eight years ago, he promised he [would] lower housing costs," responded Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre the following day.

"These things are federal, yet the federal prime minister claims he has nothing to do with it whatsoever."

Trudeau reacted by saying that Poilievre's housing plan only consists of fear-mongering Canadians and cutting programs. "His answer to everything is to cut and be angry."

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