Recently, you may have seen a headline stating, “Non-permanent residents in Canada undercounted by one million: CIBC.”
My office received a few inquiries on this topic and some expressed concern.
For those unfamiliar with how the Canadian immigration process works, there is often confusion when a headline like this arises. People from all over the world come to Canada for various reasons. Some of the most common reasons include international students coming here to study, short-term visitors and temporary foreign workers who often work in agriculture on our local farms in our region.
Generally, these visitors to Canada are known as “non-permanent" residents, even though they may be visiting Canada under a different type of visa, permit or program. Refugees claiming asylum also fall into this category.
The recent headline arose due to the chief economist from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) stating Statistics Canada does not correctly count those with an expired visa. The statement from CIBC observes that when the original form for entering Canada expires, many non-permanent residents do not leave Canada and remain here. This is mainly because the federal government lacks an adequate system to track people with expired visas who stay in Canada.
This is a concern, as stated by the same CIBC chief economist, because undercounting the number of visitors remaining here in Canada may distort the actual demands on housing and other critical services like health care.
Recently, the leader of the (Conservative) Opposition, Pierre Poilievre, stated it is unacceptable for refugee claimants to be sleeping on streets in cities like Toronto due to a lack of shelter spaces.
The government is aware of this problem. Recently, the new federal housing minister, Sean Fraser, suggested there could be a cap on the roughly 900,000 international students who come to Canada to study each year. Some provinces opposed that idea, as did many universities and even some members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.
The prime minister has not announced any plan to address this challenge.
Statistics Canada (as reported by CBC) says, it will publish new data tables next month estimating the number of non-permanent residents in the country in response to the recent concerns expressed by the chief economist at CIBC.
It is critically important we have this data so those in public office, civil servants and the private sector can make the most informed decisions possible.
We must also recognize housing challenges affect all Canadians, and the federal government must ensure it can provide clear and accurate data to help find solutions.
My question for you this week:
Are you concerned it was CIBC who pointed out this challenge and not our federal government? Why or why not?
I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.