Wednesday, May 29, 2024

N.L. immigration minister demands clarity from Ottawa on impact of international student cap | CBC News

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The Newfoundland and Labrador government says it’s getting mixed messages from Ottawa about the potential impact of a new cap on international students.

Immigration Minister Gerry Byrne says that’s unacceptable, and the province needs answers.

“We’ve got to get clarity from Ottawa — that’s the bottom line,” Byrne said in an interview with CBC News Thursday afternoon.

“The ambiguity around this right now, I can’t tell you if this is fit to eat. I cannot tell you if we’re going to stay the same, we’re going to shrink, we’re going to grow a little bit.” 

In January, the federal government imposed the cap on new international student permits, citing pressures on housing and health care and the need to protect students from “bad actors.”

At the time, federal officials indicated that the cap is expected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits this year — a decrease of 35 per cent from 2023. 

The initial indications out of Ottawa were that student permits would be allocated to the provinces, “weighted by population.”

Last month, Byrne told CBC News that would be good news for Newfoundland and Labrador — a potential big increase for a province that had about 3,000 permits for international post-secondary students go into effect in 2023.

But Byrne says the messages from Ottawa have since become more muddied, and it seems like the numbers in Newfoundland and Labrador will be status quo — or there will even be a reduction in permits issued.

“They have changed their mind, and they have continued to change their mind, and I think they may change their mind again,” he said.

“So what was a significant story about potential for growth is really about kind of staying still, treading water for Newfoundland and Labrador.”

In January, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller announced a cap on the number of international student permits over the next two years. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press)

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada stressed that allocations take into account the population share of each province and territory as well as previous study permit application volumes and approval rates. 

“Individual provincial and territorial allocations are being established and conversations are ongoing with provinces and territories,” IRCC spokesperson Remi Lariviere advised.

“More information will be announced in due course.”

Atlantic premiers express cap concerns

Concerns about the implementation of the cap go beyond Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Premier Andrew Furey — in his role as chair of the Council of Atlantic Premiers — addressed that in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday.

“The allocations identified for the Atlantic provinces diverge significantly from the initial announced cap and ‘weighted by population’ commitment by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC),” Furey wrote.

“This unbalanced approach creates particular challenges for our region, especially considering the lower numbers of international students compared to other jurisdictions.”

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