B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon is urging the federal government to link housing funding with the number of immigrants moving to each province. This comes after the announcement that a record 431,645 permanent residents immigrated to Canada last year, excluding Quebec. While provinces have little control over the number of new immigrants and where they settle, the increase in immigration has put additional pressure on housing and healthcare.
Kahlon believes that it is time for the federal government to tie immigration numbers to affordable housing targets and new housing starts. This would ensure that both the existing population and new immigrants have access to adequate healthcare and housing. The lack of specific financial support from the federal government based on immigration numbers is currently a challenge for provinces.
Ottawa has set ambitious targets for immigration, aiming for 465,000 new immigrants in 2023, 485,000 in 2024, and 500,000 in 2025. However, British Columbia is not only dealing with new immigrants but also a surge in temporary visitors and migration from other provinces. These temporary visitors include international students and temporary foreign workers. In the first three quarters of 2022, more than 123,000 people arrived in British Columbia.
Kahlon emphasizes the need for immigrants to support the economy but acknowledges the pressure it puts on housing. He believes that substantial investments from the federal government are necessary to address these challenges. Chris Friesen, the chief operating officer of the Immigrant Services Society of B.C., agrees that resource challenges are faced by all jurisdictions. The aging population in Canada necessitates immigration, but housing becomes a major obstacle.
Friesen points out that new immigrants often lack information about moving to smaller communities where housing may be more readily available. Additionally, governments have not provided enough planning for housing new arrivals. There seems to be a disconnect between the multi-year levels plan for immigration and the available housing stock for immigrants and refugees. This is an issue that needs to be addressed collectively.
In conclusion, the increase in immigration to Canada has created additional pressure on housing and healthcare. B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon is calling on the federal government to tie housing funding to immigration numbers. The lack of specific financial support based on immigration numbers is a challenge for provinces. The ambitious immigration targets set by Ottawa, coupled with temporary visitors and migration from other provinces, have led to a surge in population growth in British Columbia. Both Kahlon and Chris Friesen emphasize the need for substantial investments from the federal government to address the housing challenges faced by immigrants and the existing population. It is crucial for governments to provide adequate information and planning for housing new arrivals, particularly in smaller communities where housing may be more available.