Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown Advocates for Stricter Policies on International Student Visas to Address Housing Concerns

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Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown is urging the Canadian government to implement measures such as capping the intake of international students and mandating accommodation plans before visa issuance. This initiative aims to address the housing crisis and mitigate the prevalence of unsafe living conditions.

Mayor Brown announced on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) that “the City of Brampton Council has unanimously passed a motion calling on the federal government to require international student visas to include a housing address consistent with local by-laws as a component of the approvals process.”

According to Mayor Brown, the influx of international students in Brampton has led to a situation where many cannot afford rent and end up residing in unsafe and illegal living arrangements. With approximately 650,000 residents, Brampton, located west of Toronto in Peel Region, has experienced a significant rise in its international student population, particularly from India.

The call for restrictions on international student numbers comes amid growing concerns that their presence exacerbates housing challenges, and some may not genuinely pursue academic studies. Statistics Canada’s November analysis revealed that about 19% of international students with study permits had no documented history of attending Canadian colleges or universities.

In a recent letter to federal immigration and housing ministers, Mayor Brown advocated for changes in the student visa system, proposing a requirement for a pre-approved accommodation plan for every issued visa, overseen by postsecondary institutions. Additionally, he suggested that the housing address should be proximate to the community where the student is studying.

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Mayor Brown also proposed a more stringent visa policy, including an annual cap on student permits, prioritizing postsecondary institutions with comprehensive housing plans. He emphasized the need for increased federal funding to municipalities, particularly Brampton, to support housing infrastructure for international students.

Ontario, according to data, hosts more international students than all other provinces and territories combined, with a significant portion settling in Brampton. Mr. Brown highlighted the challenges faced by international students in terms of housing affordability and living conditions in the city.

In an interview, Mayor Brown expressed concern about the strain on resources, citing instances where students live in Brampton while attending colleges located hundreds of kilometers away. He highlighted the lack of compensation for the city, as these students often do not pay taxes and may reside in overcrowded living spaces.

While supportive of international students, Mayor Brown stressed that the current immigration system is inequitable for both the community and the students. Immigration Minister Marc Miller has previously indicated a potential cap on international students, citing the correlation between their numbers and the housing shortage, along with plans to limit temporary foreign workers entering Canada.

Last month, the federal government doubled the amount of money international students need to prove they have access to in order to apply for a visa. Prospective students now need to show they have access to $20,635 instead of the $10,000 requirement that had been in place for two decades.

During a press conference marking the announcement, Miller called on provinces to do more to help house international students. He also criticized lax regulations around some post-secondary institutions.

“There are, in provinces, the diploma equivalent of puppy mills that are just churning out diplomas, and this is not a legitimate student experience,” Miller said at the news conference in December.

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