The recent cap on international students has led to some pushback from postsecondary schools and provincial governments, including Colleges Ontario and B.C. Premier David Eby. 

Eby wants to see exemptions in occupational areas where there is high demand, such as nurses, early childhood care and truck drivers.  

“We can’t have this cap impacting our healthcare system or the availability of childcare, or the ability to build the homes that we need,” Eby told reporters.

The Trudeau government announced a cap on international students visas last week due to unsustainable housing, pressure on the healthcare system, and corruption within some of the student visa programs. 

“This is the first stage of a discussion that we’re having with the federal government about the number itself as well as any other areas that might be carved out for areas of particular needs,” Eby told CBC News in an interview.

While Eby does agree that there are too many international students entering Canada every year, he wants to see the Trudeau government reduce the number “in a way that minimizes harm to the overall provincial economy, to postsecondary institutions, and to international students themselves.”

Canada accepted 352,325 international students in 2015. By the end of last year, that number had tripled to 1,038,850. 

The cap will mean a new student visa can only be issued once an old one expires. 

B.C. and Ontario will feel the cap more than other provinces as they take in the greatest number of international students every year, despite the fact that the cap is applied on a per capita basis equally across all provinces. 

Colleges Ontario, an association representing 24 public colleges across the province, said that there will be “long-lasting repercussions” as a result of the cap in a statement released last week. 

“The federal government’s cap on study permits for international students is essentially a moratorium by stealth that is already causing significant and unnecessary upheaval for students, employers and communities,” reads the statement released on Thursday. 

“Ontario’s public colleges are calling for the federal government to treat the post-graduate credentials at public colleges the same way it treats the post-graduate credentials at universities and to exempt them from the cap.”

Almost one-third of all postsecondary students in B.C., about 545,000, are international, and with a number that high, postsecondary institutions are going to feel the loss in tuition fees. Especially since some institutions may charge as much as 10 times the amount in tuition fees to an international student as they would to a Canadian student.

Universities throughout Canada have argued that international students play a pivotal role in contributing to communities, bringing in an annual $22 billion to the economy.

Postsecondary institutions in Ontario account for 40% of international students and they have argued that the cap is going to bring financial hardship to their sector. 

However, the federal government believes that that the cap is a result of mismanagement on behalf of some schools, with Immigration Minister Marc Miller going as far as to call them “puppy mills” for providing international students with a subpar education. 

According to the Globe and Mail, B.C. Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills Selina Robinson responded to the announcement by promising to go after “bad actors” who abuse the system.

“We do need to stop the bad actors from misleading the students,” said Robinson. “We are taking action to increase higher standards and stronger enforcement for institutions that enroll international education students here in British Columbia.”

According to Robinson, the new measures will include more frequent inspections of private postsecondary institutions to ensure quality. 

Private colleges, which account for more than half of international students in B.C. will be obligated to demonstrate a correlation between the needs of the labour-market with their graduates. 

Additionally, B.C. will set minimum language requirements at private training institutions.

“We will work with public and private institutions to set appropriate limits on international enrolment,” Robinson told reporters.

Miller responded by saying that the federal government was willing to work with B.C. on implementing the cap, however he would not comment on whether or not it would consider exemptions.