Immigration minister calls Ontario’s international student claims ‘garbage’

Click to play video: 'Ontario announces $1.3B funding for post-secondary institutions, maintains tuition freeze'
Ontario announces $1.3B funding for post-secondary institutions, maintains tuition freeze
RELATED: During a press conference on Monday, Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop announced $1.3 billion in new funding for post-secondary institutions, including maintaining a tuition fee freeze for in-province domestic students for another three years.

Canada’s immigration minister is pushing back against provincial assertions that the federal government didn’t consult with Ontario over the international student cap that upended the post-secondary sector.

The Ford government has repeatedly accused Ottawa of dropping the cap on international students out of nowhere.

Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop previously said a lack of consultation had caused “chaos” in the province and Premier Doug Ford said the Trudeau government had “taken a sledgehammer to the whole system” and “blindsided” him.

On Tuesday, however, Immigration Minister Marc Miller called the claims “complete garbage.”

He said his office had, through public announcements and private conversations, been telling Ontario “quite clearly that they need to get their house in order,” with some colleges overreliant on international students to bring money in after a years-long tuition freeze.

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“They should have known it, they had auditor general reports, I’ve spoken quite publicly about it,” Miller said.

“The reality is, there was communication, it just was never followed up on.”

A war of words between the two governments over the international student cap has been growing in recent days.

In January, the federal government announced it would limit the number of new international students coming into the country, cutting the number in Ontario by around 50 per cent.

The move was decried by colleges and universities in the province, which say they have become increasingly reliant on international students to fund their operations.

A tuition fee cut and freeze introduced by the Ford government in 2019 has seen international tuition become a key part of the revenue drawn by post-secondary institutions.

Announcing a cash injection of $1.3 billion over three years on Monday — after an expert panel recommended $2.5 billion — Dunlop repeatedly took aim at Ottawa.

Dunlop said the money was part of a response “to the disruption caused by the federal government’s unilateral interferences in our education system” through the introduction of the cap.

The minister also said she was “very disturbed by the lack of consultation” from the federal government.

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Miller dismissed the allegation, and said there was “responsibility to go around.”

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