Immigrants will build houses, Minister Marc Miller says

Of the half a million people Canada hopes to welcome each year, some already have homes or the money to buy one, and others will help build more homes, argues new Federal Immigration System chief Marc Miller. on Friday.

“It’s not immigration that has doubled or even tripled home values ​​in the last decade. I would also say that it is not immigration that is responsible for the rise in interest rates,” Minister Miller said in front of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) construction site in Montreal’s Pointe-Saint-Charles.

However, the arrival of immigrants “poses a challenge to ensure these people have affordable housing”. However, in his opinion, the problem should not be overstated, since “a large proportion of these people already own houses” and have already physically arrived in Canada. Others bring enough money for accommodation, he says.

Marc Miller, too, warned against interpreting the federal target of 500,000 new arrivals per year as meaning that all of these people land directly from abroad. He said part of that number affects people who are already permanent residents of the country.

However, his office quickly clarified that this was a mistake and rather meant that foreign students or foreign temporary workers could get their permanent residence card and thus could count half a million welcome people in this statistic.

Degree of immigration “necessary”

“If we talk about the half a million people who come, these people will build houses,” the minister added. Just like the people who came in the 1950s and 1960s built the homes we see in Pointe-Saint-Charles today. They were immigrants with stiff competition. »

He describes this level of immigration as “necessary” in the context of the labor shortages that Quebec and Ontario in particular are experiencing.

Marc Miller also criticized the idea of ​​lowering the threshold set by his government. “When people ask us to cut [dans l’immigration], What does that mean ? ” he asks.

“Does that mean that we are leaving out the skilled workers that we actually need to build these houses? Breaking off family reunification, which can have devastating consequences for the mental health and well-being of affected families already here? »

He ended his demonstration by saying that an “open and rational” discussion must be held with the provinces, including Quebec, which have the power to set their own levels of immigration, including on family reunification. Quebec’s lower targets result in a backlog of applications and therefore long delays in, for example, promoting a spouse’s immigration.

target debate

The minister’s claims contradict, at least in part, a study by TD Bank that the surge in Canada’s immigrant population is leading to worsening housing shortages, higher interest rates and difficulties in maintaining public services.

Desjardins Group chief economist Jimmy Jean also expressed doubts in May about the argument that an increase in immigration would be enough to solve the problems of labor shortages linked to the housing crisis.

Marc Miller was Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations until late last month and as such had promised to “return” territory to the First Peoples in 2021. Like the majority of ministers in the Trudeau government, the Montreal elected official inherited a new position during a major Liberal cabinet reshuffle on July 26. He replaced Sean Fraser of Nova Scotia as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

The minister on Friday invited the media to promote the new tax-free savings account for first home purchases, the CELIAPP, one of the solutions proposed by the federal government to encourage home ownership.

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Andrea Hunt

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