CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Mohamed Ateeq vividly remembers what it was like sharing a cramped Charlottetown home with 5 others final 12 months, paying $800 for his single room.
With only one small frequent space and two loos for six individuals, it wasn’t the residing state of affairs the UPEI scholar had envisioned when selecting to check in Canada.
“It was the one possibility I had, particularly in a time the place there’s a housing crunch. You are taking no matter you will get,” the second-year political science scholar instructed SaltWire in a current interview.
Ateeq, who’s initially from India, is amongst greater than 800,000 worldwide college students that Canada hosted final 12 months, in response to Statistics Canada figures.
Worldwide college students have lately made headlines on account of discussions about limiting their numbers.
Housing and Infrastructure Minister Sean Fraser instructed reporters in Charlottetown final month throughout a three-day cupboard retreat in P.E.I. that Ottawa is contemplating a cap on the variety of worldwide college students to ease housing strain.
Since then, Ateeq mentioned he’s seen social media feedback blaming worldwide college students for P.E.I.’s housing disaster. He mentioned it is unfair worldwide college students are being scapegoated.
“I simply really feel like individuals must assume extra broadly,” Ateeq mentioned.
A posh challenge
Satyajit Sen, who’s an unbiased coverage researcher primarily based in Charlottetown, mentioned he understands the rationale behind capping worldwide scholar numbers.
Final month, CBC reported Immigration Minister Marc Miller mentioned Canada will host round 900,000 worldwide college students in 2023.
“That’s including to the housing disaster as a result of it is a easy demand and provide challenge. You’ve gotten the next demand, low provide,” Sen mentioned. “Your rents will go up. Dwelling costs will go up. It is easy economics.”
Nonetheless, he famous that capping worldwide college students will not remedy P.E.I.’s housing disaster alone, because it’s only one facet of the Island’s inhabitants progress.
He identified an often-overlooked issue: P.E.I.’s inhabitants progress can also be influenced by interprovincial migration – individuals migrating to the Island from elsewhere in Canada.
“It is such a posh challenge. And it isn’t sensible guilty anybody, be it worldwide college students or different stakeholders.”
P.E.I.’s inhabitants progress
In 2021-22, the province’s inhabitants reached 170,688, marking a 3.5 per cent enhance, in response to Statistics Canada’s 2022 annual demographic estimates.
This progress was multifaceted, with 1.3 % attributed to interprovincial migration.
Sen mentioned a lot of non-permanent residents have been transferring to P.E.I. from different provinces, notably Ontario, due to immigration pathways together with the Atlantic Immigration Program and Provincial Nominee Program.
As for the remaining 2.2 % of the inhabitants progress, it got here from worldwide migration.
This determine does not solely embody worldwide college students. It additionally contains individuals coming to P.E.I. for work, like non permanent international employees and their households coming alongside.
Contemplating that P.E.I. homes solely a college and a school, Sen mentioned placing a restrict on the variety of college students coming to P.E.I. from overseas won’t do a lot to ease the housing crunch.
“It’s not an space the place you might have, you realize, a whole bunch of schools and universities,” he mentioned, citing Ontario for example, the place such a measure might be simpler.
‘We want individuals right here’
Sen mentioned worldwide college students profit Canada and in P.E.I. in some ways. They pay larger tuition charges, assist universities, and contribute to the economic system.
In addition they assist keep a youthful workforce as a lot of them finally turn into everlasting residents and residents, which helps counter the challenges posed by Canada’s getting older inhabitants.
“It helps us in decreasing our median age. It offers the market a vibrant workforce,” he mentioned. “Canada just isn’t a younger nation. And for a vibrant economic system, you really want a working age inhabitants.”
“We make investments on this Island … we’re additionally serving to in constructing homes right here on the Island. So, we’re attempting to assist the issue” – Mohamed Ateeq, UPEI scholar
The reply is Canada’s housing crunch, he mentioned, ought to lie in constructing extra properties, reasonably than putting blame on a bunch of people who want assist.
“We want individuals right here. We have to develop our inhabitants,” he mentioned. “We additionally must maintain them, assist them each doable means, not blame them. It can have a unfavorable affect on Canada as a nation. The second we begin blaming worldwide college students, you’ll not be attracting world abilities to this nation.”
As for Mohamed Ateeq, over the previous 12 months residing in P.E.I., he’s seen how worldwide college students are working for varied native companies, notably in meals companies, retail, and hospitality.
He’s additionally heard about some college students in P.E.I.’s Indian group working for native development corporations after commencement.
“We make investments on this Island … we’re additionally serving to in constructing homes right here on the Island. So, we’re attempting to assist the issue,” the UPEI scholar mentioned.
Thinh Nguyen is a enterprise reporter with SaltWire in Prince Edward Island. He could be reached by e-mail at [email protected] and adopted on X @thinhnguyen4291.