NDP leader Jagmeet Singh proposes student housing crunch solutions while speaking at UVic


While touring the University of Victoria, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh proposed solutions to ease the student housing crunch.

Economics student Irfan Tanveer is going to UVic part-time these days.

He’d like to go full-time, but as an international student he pays three times more for all of his courses than Canadians.

“That is almost 20 grand, 24 grand a year,” he said. “And then there’s four years to go. That’s a lot of money.”

And that doesn’t include the cost of housing.

“I have to live, pay rent, it’s not paid to UVic. It’s complicated. But I make do. It’s getting hard day by day,” Tanveer said.

These grad students say it’s their number one concern.

Mitchell Nascimento is paid a salary as a graduate student, but finding a place to live is almost impossible.

“We need more housing. We need availability of housing. That’s the big thing,” Nascimento said.

Students needing housing for the school year are facing a tough market.

According to Rentals.ca, Vancouver remains the country’s most expensive rental market with a one-bedroom commanding more than $3,000 a month

Victoria is in eighth place, and although the price of a one-bedroom dropped nine per cent, it’s still out of reach for many.

Greg Gaube says he is sympathetic to students arriving in Victoria trying to find housing before the start of classes.

“Yeah, it really is a struggle to find anything that is reasonable in this town,” Gaube said.

With more than 800,000 foreign students currently enrolled in classes, Mark Miller, Federal Immigration Minister, said on Aug. 23 that he’s considering a cap on the amount of international students to ease the housing crunch.

“The micro-inflationary pressure that international students present in certain areas of the country, notably in big cities, is real,” Miller said.

While at UVic today, Singh said issuing study permits to students would reduce the stress of finding a home.

“We propose that institutions should have a plan to house students, and that study permits be be issued in relation to universities or other schools that can show a plan to house their students,” Singh said.

He says Ottawa needs to take the lead.

“The federal government has the land, the power, and the resources, and finances to build homes,” the NDP leader said.

A cap would not be in effect for this school year when classes start Tuesday.

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Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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