Temporary residents, long-term problems

When it comes to temporary residents in Canada, the government now feels that 2 million is company, but 2.5 million is a crowd.

What happened: For the first time, Canada will set a target for non-permanent residents (NPRs) as it looks to reduce the number of them in the country by 20% over three years. This means cutting the number of NPRs by 500,000, down from 6.2% of the population to 5.0%. 

  • To reach this goal, workplaces that previously were allowed to have 30% of their workforce made up of temporary foreign workers will now be restricted to just 20% — though construction and healthcare sectors will be exempt from this new rule. 

Catch-up: Like a harried host dealing with a surprisingly raucous house party, the feds have been trying to thin out an overcrowded space. A foreign post-secondary student cap takes effect this fall, while permanent resident targets will be held steady in 2026 instead of raised. 

Why it matters: The number of NPRs in Canada grew to 2.5 million as of the fourth quarter of 2023 — nearly double the amount Canada had two years prior. This unchecked growth has put immense pressure on a housing market already short on homes.

Yes, but: Basically all of Canada’s recent (already meagre) GDP growth has been driven by immigration. In exchange for relieving housing pressure, the country must be prepared for negative impacts on the economy and newfound vacancies in the labour force.—QH