Hon. Amina Gerba: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Gold, according to Statistics Canada and Global Affairs Canada, over one third of tuition fees collected by Canadian universities in the 2018-19 academic year came from international students. Those same students contributed $22.3 billion to the Canadian economy in 2018. The recent decision by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to limit the number of international students allowed into Canada to 360,000 for two years, a 35% drop compared to 2023, will penalize Canadian universities and schools.
Senator Gold, what will the government do to help universities and the Canadian economy make up for this drop in revenue?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. First, it’s important to understand that international students are essential to our future, to our economy and to enriching our communities. That said, too many of them are vulnerable at this point in time, and abusive practices threaten the integrity of our international student program. The government has therefore placed a temporary two-year cap on new study permit applications. It’s my understanding that the federal government will continue to discuss the matter with its provincial and territorial partners, which have jurisdiction over education, and with stakeholders in education across the country.
Senator Gerba: I understand that you are well aware of this phenomenon. Wouldn’t it make more sense to apply far more specific measures to offending schools that abuse the system?
Senator Gold: Thank you for your question. As you know, and as the other senators can appreciate, the program announced by the government is very targeted. It makes a distinction between the provinces and invites them to set different targets based on their demographic weight. It also makes a distinction between universities, students at post-secondary institutions and those enrolled in programs that are not as well recognized as true centres of education. These measures are targeted to address this issue.