Following Sean Fraser's announcement, Canadian postsecondary institutions will be able to apply for low-interest loans to help pay for the development of student housing starting this fall.
By amending an existing program, the federal government intends to broaden the scope of eligibility for cost-effective financing. This modification will enable private developers, universities, and non-profit organizations to apply for funding to construct residences off-campus as well.
Highlighting the urgent need for more student housing in Canada, Minister Fraser emphasized the government's commitment to facilitating its construction. The Apartment Construction Loan Program, previously augmented with an additional $15 billion last fall, now holds a total funding pool of $40 billion. It's crucial to note that Monday's announcement did not inject additional funds into the existing pool; rather, it broadened the criteria for eligibility.
The announcement, coinciding with the resumption of the House of Commons after a winter break, addresses the challenges posed by the significant expansion of Canada's international student program. With over 900,000 foreign students holding visas to study in Canada last year—more than three times the number a decade ago—the strain on local housing markets has become increasingly evident.
To address this, the federal government has put a two-year limit on the number of foreign students that can enroll, with the goal of approving 35% fewer visas this year. The new ceiling should provide some relief from rental price pressures, according to Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem, who spoke with The Canadian Press. The average asking rent in Canada reached a record high of $2,178 per month in December, an 8.6 percent year-over-year rise, according to statistics from Rentals.ca and market research firm Urbanation. This measure is in response to such figures.
Moreover, the announcement signifies a proactive approach by the Canadian government to address the housing challenges posed by the growth in the international student population. By expanding access to low-interest loans, the government aims to facilitate the construction of student housing, contributing to a more sustainable and accommodating housing landscape for both domestic and international students.