5 things we learned about migration in 2019

December 29, 2019

By Vancouver Sun |

Migration continues to shape Canada, which brought in a record 350,000 immigrants in 2019, plus a larger-than-ever number of international students and guest workers.

Migration continues to shape the political futures of Britain, the U.S., parts of Europe and beyond.

But in English-speaking Canada, except for concern about irregular migrants from the U.S. crossing the border, discussion of the complex issues surrounding migration remains muted.

Regardless, migration continues to shape the country — especially in light of Justin Trudeau raising migration levels to among the highest per capita in the world. In 2019 Canada brought in a record 350,000 immigrants, plus a larger-than-ever number of international students and guest workers.

Here are five things we learned about migration this year in Canada:

1: Foreign capital impacted housing

One of the most newsworthy facts discovered about Metro Vancouver housing in 2019 was that detached homes bought by recent immigrants are, on average, valued $824,000 higher than such homes owned by people born in Canada.

The most expensive houses were bought by newcomers from China and Iran. Meanwhile, the Urban Development Institute and Royal Lepage reported immigrants are the key drivers of population growth in Vancouver and Toronto and, thus, politicians needed to green light the construction of more housing supply.

The B.C. NDP’s speculation and vacancy tax also kicked into gear. It is aimed largely at “satellite families” in which breadwinners make most of their wealth offshore, where it’s not subject to the Canadian or provincial income taxes that finance health, educational and social programs.

The end of the year saw a new Vancouver twist on foreign ownership, which can be defined as “housing owned primarily on the basis of foreign income or wealth.” The Squamish Nation teamed with Westbank Development to build an 11-tower project next to the Burrard Street Bridge. Since the towers will rise on Indigenous land, purchasers of the upwards of 6,000 units won’t be subject to the foreign-buyers tax, speculation tax or vacancy tax.

2: International-student exploitation occurred

With a record 573,000 international students brought to the country last year, some cracks are emerging in the popular program.

Some private and public schools are exploiting the foreign students for their fees, which are four times higher than those of domestic students. Females desperate to fund their expensive educations are in particular being taken advantage of by shady landlords and employers. A disturbing fraction of foreign-students, mostly males, are committing suicide.

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