The Canadian government is considering a cap on the number of international students to address the growing housing crisis, one of the main goals of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's new cabinet.
The country hosted more than 8,00,000 international students last year, with 2,26,000 of the 5,49,570 study permits going to Indians in 2022, according to the government data.
On being asked whether a cap could be imposed on international students, Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Sean Fraser told reporters: "I think that's one of the options that we ought to consider.
"The government has not yet made a decision... I think we need to do some serious thinking here," Fraser told reporters on Monday.
Canada hosted more than 800,000 international students last year, with 226,000 of the 549,570 study permits going to Indians in 2022, according to the government data.
Fraser, who was previously the country's immigration minister, also took aim at institutions, which were allegedly exploiting students and thus, worsening the housing crisis, the CBC News reported.
"When you see some of these institutions that have five, six times as many students enrolled as they have spaces for them in the building, you've got to start to ask yourself some pretty tough questions," the minister said.
"There are good private institutions out there and separating the wheat from the chaff is going to be a big focus of the work that I tried to do with Miller (Immigration Minister Marc Miller)." Fraser said he plans to sit down with some of these institutions to find out ways to make it easier to find living space for those students in a tight rental market, CBC News reported.
"If they're going to continue to bring in record numbers of students, that they are being part of the solution as well by making sure that they have a place to live," he said.
He also took aim at institutions he accused of exploiting students and exacerbating the housing crisis.
"When you see some of these institutions that have five, six times as many students enrolled as they have spaces for them in the building... you've got to start to ask yourself some pretty tough questions," he said.
"There are good private institutions out there and separating the wheat from the chaff is going to be a big focus of the work that I tried to do with (Immigration Minister Marc) Miller."
The opposition Conservative Party says the ruling Liberals has not done enough to tackle the housing crisis.
As it plans to take in a record 5,00,000 new permanent residents in 2025, Canada needs to build 5.8 million new homes, which includes two million rental units, by 2030 to address housing affordability, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
Fraser cautioned against blaming the lack of affordable housing on new immigrants.
"We have to be really, really careful that we don't have a conversation that somehow blames newcomers for the housing challenges that have been several decades in the works in Canada," he said.