International students are more valuable to the Canadian economy than the banking industry or softwood lumber, says Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.
“International students contribute at least $11.4 billion a year to Canada’s gross domestic product,” Hussen told a Halifax crowd on July 10. “A lot of people don’t know that that’s more money into our economy than softwood lumber. It is more money into our economy than financial services and (it is) an equal amount of money to automotive parts.” Hussen warned that Canada must not underestimate the economic might and nation-building potential of international students, saying they are vital to the economy, culture and community spirit of Canada’s many regions. He was speaking at a conference sponsored by the Association of Atlantic Universities. “These young people are the cream of the crop in terms of future Canadians,” he said. “They have post-secondary education. They are young, they are proficient in one or both of our official languages and often they have Canadian work experience. So why wouldn’t we want to hang on to them? “They are also at the stage in their lives where they build homes, start families and launch businesses that create jobs. They are the future entrepreneurs and skilled employees.” Interest in Canadian schools, colleges and universities has surged around the world. More than 400,000 foreign citizens were in Canada with a study permit in 2016 – an increase of 18 percent over the year before.