International students need to sort out their own housing and financial needs before they arrive in Canada, according to Nova Scotian Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong.
Owners of one local shop in Sydney, N.S. told CBC News that their business is being inundated with international students looking for employment.
Many of these students claim that they were misled by Cape Breton University’s overseas recruiters regarding the amount of housing and job opportunities that would be available to them upon arrival.
“There’s no doubt that there are recruiters out there that may be doing unscrupulous things and that is really unfortunate,” said Wong on Thursday, following a cabinet meeting in Halifax.
“However, I do know for example that Cape Breton University has been training their recruiters to ensure that the proper information and honest information is given to students.”
Student housing is a problem throughout Canada for both international and domestic students, which has led Housing Minister Sean Fraser to allude to a possible future cap in the number of foreign students entering the country annually.
Last spring, the Nova Scotia government promised a new strategy for student housing, however nothing has yet been presented and Wong did not specify a release date for the proposed plan.
The provincial government is providing funding to some post-secondary institutions in relation to student housing like the Atlantic School of Theology and Cape Breton University, however the funding doesn’t require the schools to provide accommodations, according to Wong.
“Universities are independent board-governed institutions and the students that they recruit, wherever they recruit them from, is really up to whatever they set as their business plan and … basically they are businesses, they’re the ones that run their institutions,” said Wong.
Wong believes it’s incumbent upon international students to organize their housing situations and prepare themselves financially, prior to arriving.
“If we’re in a housing crisis or a cost-of-living crisis, I think it’s imperative that that student does have money in order to support themselves when they come to Nova Scotia or they come to Canada,” he said.
In 2022, over 7,000 students were enrolled into Cape Breton University and of that number, 70% of them were foreign students. Enrollment numbers for this year won’t be available until some time next month.
The Trudeau government has said that they are working with provinces and post-secondary institutions to improve the experience of international students in a variety of ways but no official discussions about capping the amount of students has happened thus far.
“Even if we don’t cap or we do cap or whatever that may be, I do believe that there’s a responsibility for students to make sure that they have those accommodations,” said Wong.