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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Dec. 7, 2023.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Canada is considering a cap on the number of international students allowed to live in the country, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said according to a CTV report, as the government faces criticism for a housing affordability crisis.

Canada depends on immigration to drive its economy and support an aging population and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been ramping up annual immigration. The housing crisis has been blamed on an increase in migrants and international students fuelling demand for homes just as inflation has slowed construction.

Miller said in a taped interview with CTV Question Period airing Sunday that the Liberal government is considering a cap on international students in the first and second quarters this year.

“That volume is disconcerting,” Miller is quoted by CTV as saying, referring to the number of international students in Canada. “It’s really a system that has gotten out of control.”

He did not say how much of a reduction in international students the government is considering.

Miller’s spokesperson could not be immediately reached.

Official data show there were more than 800,000 foreign students with active visas in 2022, up from 275,000 in 2012.

Canada is a popular destination for international students since it is relatively easy to obtain a work permit.

The Liberal government floated the idea of capping the number of foreign student visas in August, but Housing Minister Sean Fraser said then that the government had not yet made a decision of whether to pursue that option.

Miller said he planned to discuss the problem with provincial counterparts.

Trudeau’s Liberals have seen their popularity plummet after more than eight years in office, with polls placing them well behind the official opposition Conservatives led by Pierre Poilievre, who have criticized the government for not properly managing the housing issue.

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