Blame government, not migrants, for rental crisis


It is amazing how similarly the migration debate is playing out in Canada and Australia.

Australian capital city asking rents

As we all know, Australia’s rental market is experiencing unprecedented rental growth, which has been driven by the record surge in net overseas migration:

Australian net overseas migration

Exactly the same situation is playing out in Canada, which recorded record net overseas migration of nearly 1.3 million people in 2023, which has sent rents to the moon:

Canadian population and rents

Like in Australia, Canada’s record net overseas migration has been driven by an unprecedented surge in temporary migrants (mostly foreign students):

Non-permanent residents and rental growth

Source: Ben Rabidoux

And just like in Australia, the Canadian government, which stupidly chose to ramp up immigration to record levels, is accusing Canadians of “blaming migrants” for the housing crisis:

Canadian Tweet

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller said Tuesday he was “quite tired of the fact that people are always blaming immigrants for absolutely everything,” after Quebec Premier François Legault attributed “100 per cent of the housing problem” to the increase in the number of people arriving on a temporary basis…

Legault continues to insist that there has been an “explosion” in the number of temporary immigrants established in the province and that this is putting a lot of pressure on public services and housing.

“100 per cent of the housing problem comes from the increase in the number of temporary immigrants,” he said Monday…

Called on Tuesday to respond to Miller’s comments, Legault’s office maintained that the Quebec government “does not blame people who want to come to Quebec to improve their lives.”

“The problem is the explosion in the number of temporary immigrants, created by the federal government. It puts unbearable pressure … on our public services, on French,” it said.

Quebec Premier François Legault is 100% correct. Canada’s rental crisis is not the fault of migrants wanting to come to Canada. The blame rests with the federal government, which deliberately opened the immigration floodgates and created the problem.

The same applies to the Albanese government in Australia, which promised prior to the federal election to run a lower immigration policy:


The Albanese government then delivered an unprecedented migration surge by:

  • Increasing the permanent migrant intake by 30,000.
  • Increasing the humanitarian intake by 7,000.
  • Spending $42 million to hire an additional 500 staff at the Department of Home Affairs to rubber stamp visas applications and clear the made-up “visa backlog”.
  • Increasing the number of hours that international students can work in Australia to 24 hours a week, from 20 hours pre-pandemic.
  • Increasing the number of years that international student graduates can work in Australia post-study (revoked this year).
  • Easier pathways to citizenship for New Zealanders.
  • More permanent visas for low-skilled workers in agriculture and aged care.
  • Signing two migration deals with India to make it easier for Indians to study and work in Australia.

Blame the federal governments of Canada and Australia for their respective rental crises, not migrants.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.