Canadians under 24 see unemployment rate rise amid growing international student population

Monthly StatsCan Labour Force surveys for July year over year show the unemployment rate for Canadians under 24 grew a full point from 9.2% to 10.2% after foreign students were permitted to work unlimited hours.

Canadians under 24 see unemployment rate rise amid growing international student population
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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Foreigners looking to study in Canada next year must have access to over $20,000 to qualify for a study permit — more than double the current amount.

“It would be a mistake to blame international students for the housing crisis,” Immigration Minister Marc Miller told reporters on December 7. “But it is also a mistake to invite them to Canada with no support, including a roof over their heads.” 

“It's why we expect learning institutions to only accept a number of [international] students that they're able to provide for — able to house or assist in finding off-campus housing,” he said.

Starting next year, prospective students need access to $20,635 instead of $10,000 — Canada’s long-standing benchmark for two decades. 

The amount will be adjusted yearly based on a Statistics Canada benchmark for living costs, reported the CBC. In addition, they must pay their travel and tuition costs in advance.

To accommodate international students amid escalating costs, the Trudeau Liberals pledged to review how many hours they permit students to work in Canada.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, cabinet on November 15, 2022, suspended regulations under the Immigration And Refugee Protection Act that limited foreign students to working 20 hours a week. 

“Our data shows us that 80 percent of international students work more than 20 hours a week,” said Miller.

On Thursday, the minister extended regulations allowing a half-million foreign students to work full-time hours in Canada until April 30, 2024. The initial suspension was set to expire on December 31.

“I don’t think students are taking jobs away from other people given the labour shortages that are happening in Canada,” he claimed. However, figures show the unemployment rate for Canadians grew after the minister changed the rules, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“Have you taken a look at what impact that extension could have?” asked a reporter. “There are labour shortages across the country,” replied Miller.

Monthly StatsCan Labour Force surveys for July year over year show the unemployment rate for Canadians under 24 grew a full point from 9.2% to 10.2% after foreign students were permitted to work unlimited hours.

“My focus primarily is to make sure the public policy we have in place is one that reflects the ability of the student to actually do what they’re supposed to be doing, which is study without bankrupting themselves,” said Miller.

He did not elaborate when asked about future reviews of the policy, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

Statistics Canada in a 2022 report said under the cap about half of foreign students were in the Canadian workforce. 

“Between 2000 and 2019 the number of international students with T4 earnings increased from 22,000 to 354,000, a result of both a higher number of international students and their rising labour force participation rate from 18 percent to 50 percent,” said the report Immigration As A Source Of Labour Supply.

“The increases were particularly large at the non-university postsecondary level where the labour force participation rate rose from seven percent to 58 percent and the number of participants rose from 3,000 to 173,000,” wrote analysts.

Then-immigration minister Sean Fraser on October 10, 2022, told the Commons “there are 500,000 international students living in Canada who can make contributions” in the workforce. “It is a great day for the economy,” he said.

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