Canada’s immigration minister says the country needs more newcomers, but as housing prices skyrocket in Vancouver and Toronto the government hopes to attract them to other cities.
John McCallum recently returned from China where he lobbied officials to double or even triple the number of visa application centres in the country, in an effort to court Chinese students, workers and visitors.
He says Canada’s aging population means more young blood is needed, but the government wants to spread immigrants relatively evenly across the country, using tools such as a pilot program to attract newcomers to Atlantic Canada.
McCallum quickly acknowledged there are limits to the government’s ability to disperse migrants, as once people become permanent residents they have a constitutional right to move wherever they want.
WATCH BELOW: Premier Christy Clark addresses Quebec’s popular immigrant investor program and how it could be impacting housing affordability issues in British Columbia.
British Columbia recently introduced a 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers in order to cool speculation in Metro Vancouver’s overheated housing market, but McCallum says — to his surprise — Chinese officials didn’t bring up the tax during his visit.
The immigration minister’s trip comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to travel to China at the end of the month ahead of the G20 summit in September.