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Canada plans to reduce temporary residents, cap future intake

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada plans to reduce its temporary residents and set a cap on temporary immigration for the first time ever, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said on Thursday, the latest government effort to address a housing shortage and stretched essential services.

In recent years Canada has seen a sharp rise in international students, foreign workers and other temporary residents who come to the country on time-limited visas as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government relied on immigration to drive economic growth and plug labor gaps.

But the Liberal government has also come under political pressure for its immigration policies, with critics arguing they have exacerbated a housing crunch. Some services provided by the provinces, such as education and healthcare, are also struggling to keep up with population growth.

The government wants to reduce temporary residents to 5% of the total population over the next three years from 6.5% in 2023, Miller said. That would be a cut of about 20% from Canada's 2.5 million temporary residents in 2023.

Miller will convene a meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts in May to finalize the plan.

"We need to ensure the number of temporary residents entering the country is at a sustainable level," Miller told reporters in Ottawa.

"Starting this fall for the first time, we will expand the immigration levels plan to include both temporary resident arrivals and permanent resident arrivals," he said, referring to the federal government's immigration targets.

In November, the Trudeau government said it would stop ramping up immigration for permanent residents from 2026 onwards.

In January, Canada announced a two-year cap on the intake of foreign students and said it would stop giving work permits to some students after graduation as it seeks to rein in record numbers of newcomers.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Nia Williams)