As the country’s inflation reaches a 30-year high, the Canadian Federation of Students is urging the government to lift the 20-hour work restriction for overseas students.
Rising expenditures, such as rent, bills, tuition, and food, have left some overseas students unable to meet basic needs. Leena Daboo is a Mauritius-born international student who serves as the student union’s vice president of finance and administration. She claimed that overseas students were forced to choose between “paying their rent and not being homeless or buying food.”
Daboo is in charge of the disbursement of emergency cash at her university, an effort that began to help students during the Covid-19 outbreak.
“It is very awful to see that some students don’t even have winter clothes. They don’t have blankets,” said Daboo. “They don’t have money to afford these things because they have to buy books.”
She went on to say that they opted to keep the programme going because of concerns about rising expenditures. The Toronto Star reported an increased need for food banks among international students last week, while The PIE News reported earlier this year on the soaring cost of accommodation across Canada.
Overseas students in Canada are only permitted to work 20 hours a week and pay significantly higher tuition fees than domestic students. According to the Canadian Federation of Students, international undergraduate students paid an average of $33,623 in tuition fees in autumn 2021, more than five times the amount paid by Canadian students.
“They have to pay more tuition by working fewer hours,” said Bipin Kumar, international students representative at the Canadian Federation of Students.
According to a 2020 study of overseas students in Canada, 80% of respondents were anxious about their capacity to pay for their education. Kumar emphasised that some students have been forced to work illegally for cash in order to pay their bills, leaving them vulnerable to abuse by employers.
The Canadian government temporarily relaxed the 20-hour work limit for international students whose occupations provide an “important service” in response to the pandemic in April 2020, although this waiver expired in August 2020. The 352,000 international students who live in Canada contribute significantly to the country’s economy, totalling $22.3 billion in 2018.
Last Monday, Sean Fraser, Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship, stated that overseas students serve an “important role” in Canada. The Indian National Students Association in the United Kingdom has cautioned that as the cost of living continues to climb, students may soon experience similar financial difficulties.
In Canada, Kumar stated that he would like to see the government do more to assist, including lifting the 20-hour work limit.
“I believe the squeeze will be felt in April,” said Kishore Dattu, a representative for INSA UK, alluding to expected increases in both energy and national insurance prices. Dattu, on the other hand, stated that the majority of INSA members are now coping due to the strength of the UK job market.
Furthermore, Daboo recommended overseas students contact their respective universities if they are having difficulty. It is simply heartbreaking to witness how inflation forces students, particularly international students, to choose between not eating and not sleeping on the streets.
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