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Canada’s international students “left out” of support package

The House of Commons in Canada has fast-tracked and passed a series of student-focused Covid-19 support measures that will allow eligible post-secondary students to claim $1,250 a month from May to August to mitigate the impact of losing summer jobs. However, international students will not be able to avail of the funding.

Provisions for international students in Canada are noticeably absent from the government's new support packages. Photo: Pixabay

73% of students are worried about meeting financial obligations

While earlier support measures such as the CERB were open to international students, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit will only be available to Canadian citizens, including Canadian students returning from studying abroad.

“Opening the CESB to international students will send a strong message”

The government has also said it will create 76,000 jobs in front-line sectors, will extend scholarships, grants and fellowships, and is launching a grant that will offer students money towards their tuition fees if they volunteer in a sector needing assistance.

“Although this benefit is welcome news, by limiting the benefit to only Canadians and permanent residents, it fails to recognise the contributions that international students make to Canada and its post-secondary education system,” said Cape Breton University president David Dingwall, who is calling for the government to offer more support to international students.

“Like Canadian students, international students are facing hardship due to Covid-19. Many rely on employment during the summer months to help support their education and gain experience to reach their career goals, an option that is now in jeopardy.

“Opening the CESB to international students will send a strong message, ensuring Canada remains a top educational destination for international learners,” Dingwall added.

The measures come after the Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities  – a national coalition of student unions representing some 250,000 students – called for the Canadian government to extend the support measures available after a survey they conducted revealed students were “falling through the cracks” and ineligible for many programs.

Financial support was made available to both domestic and international students earlier in April if they had been laid-off due to the pandemic and had earned $5,000 in the 12 months before.

However, a survey of over 3,000 students at 64 different post-secondary institutions across Canada found that almost three out of four were worried about meeting financial obligations such as rent, groceries and other bills, and 79% were concerned about paying for tuition come autumn.

“It is no surprise that international students are being left out, as always,” said Wesam AbdElhamid Mohamed, international students representative for the Canadian Federation of Students.

“Everyone in Canada is experiencing challenges and uncertainties related to Covid-19, and international students are no exception.

“Many of us have lost jobs, we have limited access to supports, and we are away from our families. International students contribute billions of dollars to Canada’s economy and should be included in these emergency relief measures.”

“Everyone in Canada is experiencing challenges and uncertainties related to Covid-19, and international students are no exception”

Most students are struggling to find and hold onto summer jobs, he added.

The UCRU survey found –  which found 73% of students worried about summer rent and utility bill payments – also said as many as 23% of students had already had their summer contract delayed or cancelled, while a further 21% are worried this will happen and 37% are still looking for jobs.

The government has announced some changes that will allow international students to work more than 20 hours a week during term time “provided they are working in an essential service or function”.

“Immigrants, temporary foreign workers and international students are making important contributions as frontline workers in health care and other essential service sectors,” said Marco E.L. Mendicino, the minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship.

“We know and value their efforts and sacrifices to keep Canadians healthy and ensure the delivery of critical goods and services.”

However, various student representative bodies have called for much more to be done.

Canada’s Migrant Rights Network has set up a petition calling for more Covid-19 support for international students, and for the concerns and priorities of migrant students to be properly addressed.

“We have lost work or income, we are struggling to pay bills and high tuition fees, we have limited access to health care, we are concerned for our futures in Canada, and we have been separated from our families by border closures,” it wrote.

“The government’s response to this public health crisis so far has not included us.”

According to CBIE, as of December 2019, there were 642,480 international students in Canada, a 13% increase over 2018.

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61 Responses to Canada’s international students “left out” of support package

  1. I find this to be quite fair. International students are not Canadian citizens, and so the Canadian government has no obligation to give them any financial support. I am sympathetic to their concerns, but they should really be looking towards their university for financial aid opportunities rather than trying to look towards a foreign government for assistance.

    • Dear Cheryl, you should be aware that part of the future of Canada relies heavily on immigrants such as the international students that come here every year to maintain the economy of the country running strong. Not to mention that they pay 3 times more tuitions than a regular resident. Don’t be naive thinking that the country would be good without any intl students coming here to study and pay good money. And still there are those students that for sure had to prove their financial support for the period of their studies that right now need to work and don’t have any company hiring because of the crisis. All of us need to pay our bills and they need it to. You should open your mind a little bit to understand how is to be a Canadian: polite, generous, altruistic and open-minded. Have an excellent day.

  2. Government should also help to international students so that they get some relief the students who have come in January. Atleast provide money to that student who has started their job and now because of this situation they had lost their jobs. So its request to government to help financial to international students.

    • I agree becz the international students give proof of there financial support for studies but after that when they receive 3 years work permit or after reaching there and when they apply for co-op visa, period of eight months at that period, if they will not get proper job, what future will they have. International students pay such high fees for good future but right now the government of Canada is not even giving them equal chance to prove their capabilities and tring to sideline them and give jobs to to the permanent residence or the Canadian students, if that is the case why do they allow international students to come and study and why do they give three years work permit when they not going to let them even prove their capabilities to get the job. the jobs which they are creating they are just creating it for Canadian students and permanent residence and what are the international students who will receive work permit for 3 years will do there only the grocery store jobs, pl be little considerate and on top of that they are inviting more and more international students and trying to spoil their future.

  3. I am a parent of an international student doing MBA -ISP at Brock University.
    I fully agree with the views expressed in this article regarding the mental state of mind that our children are going through in a foreign land away from family.
    I will deeply appreciatiate anything that the concerned authorities will do to lighten their mental stress and anxiety, especially hrough some cash transfers to their account.
    I am sure in the years to come they will contribute to the Canadian economy as well.
    Thank you.
    Roger Ferreira.
    Parent.

  4. International students pay three time the fees the Canadian students pay….this shows how unwelcome they are. Many students who wished to study further may have to park their plans and head home as this could be a glimpse of the hostility they will face in times of a crisis. Students are locked in for fear of the virus and not able to take up jobs as they know if sick they will again get second preference …very sad and discriminating .

  5. International student is part of canada and all student deserve the all benifits like canadian people

    • No, because international students are NOT taxpayers like Canadian citizens and so this relief measure is not meant for them.

  6. Honourable Mr Prime Minister, since you have provided relief to certain groups of students, we International Students who pay nearly 3 times tuition fees have been left out. Sir most are without jobs, & we have to earn our bread, pay rents, buy groceries, etc. Humble request to please urgently provide us financial relief for some time. Regards

    • It’s not the duty of the Canadian government. It I’d the responsibility of the government I. Your home country. They should be doing something for their international students abroad. No one is doing anything for Canadian students abroad.

      • Wrong! They are contributing to the economy of Canada instead of their home country’s economy. This only shows prejudice against them. Are they impervious to hunger or sickness? They pay taxes just like you and they pay more than you for the college.
        Your speech does not represent the Canadian values.

    • Honestly, if you can afford to pay nearly 3 times more tuition fees as you have mentioned, then you can pay for yourself in this situation, since this incentive is for taxpayers and international students are not taxpayers.

  7. Under very rare and extraordinary circumstances like now foe which the whole world was not prepared.. Even world’s super powerful nations are so much shattered…. every nation should extend help to everyone living in their land forgetting boundaries. I believe this is the verdict and lesson of Nature to re-establish forgotten human virtues. I request Canadian govt to be considerate to International students too as a gesture of universal harmony.

    • No, since the 9 billion$ relief is coming from taxpayers’ money and international students are not taxpayers. You can get the money from wherever you came from..

  8. I am Roshan Nawawathne who arrived from Sri Lanka two months before as a Student. Since my arrival I had to suffer from this pandemic and I could not able to attend my university here and find a job as well.
    I expected some benefit from the Canadian government as a newly arrived international student but unfortunately I am not eligible for CERB or CESB program.
    So I am confused about this situation and hopefully looking forward some reasonable assistance from the government during this difficult period of time..

  9. Allowing international students to work more than 20 hrs a week was a nice decision as it can help many international students to earn some income in this pandemic but again the PROBLEM is, its not easy to find job in many parts of Canada for international students. Most of my friends are still struggling to find a job and are unemployed. This problem needs to be addressed.

  10. Yes, ofcourse the immigrants should get these financial relief as others, as they play an viral role in the economy of Canada.

  11. I hope the government will extend there hands to us international students or rather all people around this country because all of us were victims of this virus. This issue is for all humans around the world. I’m hoping to the government to see this pandemic as a problem to be address to all people.

  12. One more example of discrimination.

    A significant no. of Canadian universities hold multiple international educational fairs every year and some even offer on-the-spot admission. International students pay much higher fees than their domestic counterparts.

    There is a Student Direct Stream (SDS) in place which processes study permits of eligible students within 20 days.

    All said and done when they are getting money you will find the quickest and best ever options and services available. However when it comes to shell out the money, specially during tough times, they reveal their true face.

  13. Why should the Canadian government be responsible for financially supporting citizens of other countries? This is a worldwide pandemic. The countries these students are citizens of should be held financially responsible. This would also violate the terms of their student visas, as they are not permitted to work over a certain number of hours, nor should they be entitled to the same financial benefits of eligible Canadian citizens. The CERB is not a handout.

    • The students pay three times what Canadians pay as tuition. They pay taxes to the Canadian government, and not their home country. Do they not plan to get jobs in the summer to pay for their tuition, bills and other expenses like Canadians? Do they not contribute to the Canadian economy? So why shouldn’t they be entitled to financial support from the Canadian government?

  14. international students in Canada should be supported financially because their parents are also sometime not in a position to support them financially in the middle of their education

  15. Moms and dads are struggling across the world Mr PM.
    And these students are contributing huge income during normal times to canadian economy

  16. Why should the international students study overseas if they cannot afford or have the funds to back-up their tuition fees, accommodation etc? Why don’t they just stay at home, where they have the support of their families? As far as I know, before a student is granted a study visa, you have to show that you can afford it and not expect the others to pay for you?

  17. One of my friend living in canada from 8 month and she earn 4200 dollar but she has very less money to servive in canada and she is not eligible for relief package . But these type of international need support . The canadian government should pay 1200 every month like may to august it is really appriciated. Thanks

  18. I’m a Canadian who is living abroad right now. No government in any country is supporting any other citizens in their country. US isn’t even able to support it’s own citizens. saying said that, it’s time to find it in our hearts to be humain and help everyone who is in need regardless of their citizenship, religion or color. It’s time to give and not make money, we should all stop being greedy and share what we have. I’m sure the Canadian government will find a way to help all Canadian and International Students in every way they can. That is the Canada that I know and the Canada that I’m very proud of.

  19. This is an odd circumstances for both the Canadian government and for the international students too. We believe that the government is much more capable than the students. Should extend the equivalent to the basics.

  20. I wish that the PM yield to all entreats. Am aware that all countries in the world are also experiencing financial challenges so I wish that PM should try as much as possible if half of such fund can be a refundable and the remaining half can be a refundable fund.
    God bless Canada!

  21. I wish that the PM yield to all entreats. Am aware that all countries are going through financial difficulties as a result of covid 19. PM should try if not all but half of such fund can be refundable. This will encourage prospective students like me
    God bless Canada!

  22. We have supported Canadian Economy by paying premium fees during good times and now it is Candian Goverment time to support our kids during this covid 19 financial crisis

  23. My son came Canada for his university program last August 2019. He applied partime job which he hope can help him cover daily expenses. He has got confirmation of partime job in Jan 2020.the owner ask him to work in May 2020. But his job was canceled by pandemic. It is very hard for us if he doesn’t have job and the support of Goverment also. Pls consider.

  24. I am delighted with the initiative to help international student in Canada. And I also applaud the government for providing jobs during summer time with working experience opportunities. These opportunities are not there for international students in Switzerland. International student in Switzerland went through horrible experience, no job, no little working experience , after graduation, 6 months visa extension is given to look for a job but that is just political, no company would hire you in fact they will require you present working permit of which they Know immigration will not give, immigration in the other hand will tell you to apply for the job. They played the game until the 6 months expired and u are forced to leave the country. Immigration may not border u as long as you are paying rents and other bills. If by chance you approach recruiters they tell you that as long as you have no German skill ,no job. Only Eu citizens are considered for job, any other citizens go to hell. Therefore with what I have read so far about Canadian international student concerning the treatment given to them by the government ,I will ask them to contribute graciously to the Canadian society. You will never have such good, quality opportunity in Switzerland because racism is in their official yellow paper.

  25. Why can’t the countries that these international students come from provide financial support for their citizens during this pandemic? Why does Canada have to foot the bill, when many of them probably have never even paid income tax? Considering how much money we send to these foreign countries, you would think that they would have something left to give back. We can’t carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We are already being very generous with international students and foreign temporary workers.

  26. The sense of entitlement here is overwhelming. International students generally comprise the wealthy elite of their own country – it’s why their parents can afford to spend insane amounts of money to have them live and study abroad. Go ask your parents for help, or perhaps, you know, the government of your own country. The idea taxpayers should shell out cash for citizens of other counties who take up spots that used to go to us is so bizarre.

  27. Yes international students should be added for relief because their tuition fees is also double than Canadian students and they are equally contributing in economy by paying taxes

  28. you don’t pay taxes, it’s us it’s going to have to pay all this money back not you. get assistance from your country.

  29. It’s not the duty of the Canadian government. It is the responsibility of the government of your home country. They should be doing something for their international students abroad.

    Stop watching what Canadian students are paying for tuition. It their country. It could be free if they decide. That is non of you’ll business.

    No one is doing anything for Canadian students abroad.

    Canadian relief funds are for Canadian residents.

  30. International students pay more money than domestic because they are paying the “full price”. Domestic student’s fees are subsidised.

    I think it’s the country that they are from, are responsible for supporting them. It doesn’t make sense for Canadian government to be giving money to internationals since 1/4 – 1/2 of them may leave in the future.

    I am a Canadian citizen studying in the USA. The US will not be financially supporting me. But Canada will. I’m not pushing the US government to include international students in its COVID programs, nor is it their responsibility.

  31. I’ve tried to apply for the CESB and cannot find the link . Was it supposed to begin May 1st ? Thanks

  32. Yes international students should be added for relief because their tuition fees is also double than Canadian students and they are equally contributing in economy by paying taxes

    • If you can afford to pay twice as much for your studies in Canada, then you have the money to support yourself in this situation. This incentive is meant to support Canadians not international students.

  33. Its not our responsibility to give money to the international students here, that’s their own government’s job. Ours covers Canadian students other countries can cover their students

  34. Parent’s too are facing financial issues due to lock downs globally.
    Children need to be taken care off.
    Yes international students should be added in the benefits list during such turbulence.

  35. International students have an extra worry even. Since this crisis is international our home countries ecknomies are beng affected too. Most countries have a less stable economy than Canada and a weaker currency. I bet you most students currently living in Canada no longer have the ammount required by the imigration to support themselves for the period they stay in Canada.
    I am Brazilian, any savings I had in brazil are worth a third of what they were when I came to Brazil in 2017 with the dollar quickly aproaching 6 brazilian reais.
    Without income of some sort I am forced to rely on help from my parents that send me what they can with this huge exchange rate.
    Luckily I was able to find good friends to take me in or I might be living on the streets and facing deportation at this point.
    Although I understand that the canadian governament can’t provide for everyone because even the canadian economy has limits, I believe at least some help should be provided…
    Perhaps if not a grant can be offered to foreign students than maybe offer tax excemptions to people and companies that offer lower rents, discounts and support to foreign students. Something to let us know the government cares.

  36. I don’t know what these International students think of themselves…this incentive is meant to be for CANADIANS who are taxpayers. I’m sorry but if international students can afford to come here and study, they can sure as hell pay for themselves by bringing in money from wherever they came from. Gosh, for once Trudeau is doing something for us Canadians and the non-citizens want to get in the way as always…

  37. This proves how heartless Canadians are
    They know that in such situation international students are gonna be affected the most and still they regarded helping Canadian and PR students when in fact they already get a lot of support from their parents and government. We international students have no one to support us and at this time no one can actually even transfer us money overseas. We are one who are paying high fees. If such behaviour will be I assure you in upcoming time no one will think of coming to Canada to study and unfortunately the economy will be very less for Canada. So it’s a kind hearted request for PM as if he can please help us with some amount even if needed we can pay the government money back.

  38. It is indeed very unfair, uncaring and highly worrisome to have left the international students out of the emergency relief package for students. Int’l students pay taxes and boost the economy of Canada, they are far from home and can’t go home because of global travel restrictions. Some have booked flights to return to their countries for summer where the would get summer jobs and quality family time which is made impossible by covid19 induced travel ban. They are now belaboured with rents, feeding and general upkeep while the government of their host country treat their plight with such insensitivity! Many of these students are miserable knowing the govt only care about them paying school fees. The student reps should cry out once more for a reconsideration by the Canadian government.

  39. @Ami you got it all wrong – please check your facts before you keep on spreading misinformation.

    International Students pay TAX when they work in Canada like everybody else here.
    They pay HST/GST/PST like everybody else here. They pay medical insurance and bills like everybody else here.
    They pay higher tuition fees than locals
    They support local industry by spending money they bring from overseas.

    Provide support when needed, goes a far way to support the future of ones country and builds commitment and appreciation to the hosting country.

  40. I don’t know who started this ” internal students are not taxpayers” thing. International students pay all the taxes like any Canadian does, and now the government gives benefits to only Canadians by using the taxes which international students also pay.

  41. Very disappointed in the CESB that excludes international students and foreign workers. Lot of people in the workforce were once international students and foreign workers. Why are they not important until they become citizen and PR. Aren’t they paying tuition and taxes to contribute to the economy. This is so wrong….. It is actually unbelievable… These are the people separated from their families. The economic impact will effect all students.

  42. I am a single mother with two kids full time international student at Sheridan never worked during the semesters because had no help with my kids reason being i had to be there to pick and drop them to and fro from school and at the same time concentrating on my studies.I was planning to work in summer but due to Covid-19 all plans mashed up and because I didnot work part time during my semesters i am not eligible for CERB. right now somuch stressed and dont know what to do stuck in a position where all doors are closed. each time i see my kids face i feel guilty that i promised them a better future and now here i am fighting to make the ends meet. on the other hand rent is piling up dont know how i am going to manage.

  43. We dont need any assistance just make our fees same as canadian student to lower the impact of COVID19. Rest we will manage by our own.

  44. Who says that international students are not tax payers? Don’t they pay tax and VAT or other government cost while banking, buying items at the stores or other expenses? What extra ac are being paid by Canadian students? International students have created thousands of job, bringing lots of foreign currency in Canadian society and also improving the economy by labour etc. US try s lost students over the last few years and lost many foreign currency. If Canada follows US, students will move to other European countries in the future.

  45. I’m planning to study in Canada for the benefits it promising to international students, but, the way the government respond to situation and the comments of some citizen discriminating international students for a help in this time of pandemic makes me think twice of pursuing my studies… International student boast Canada’s economy, They may not paying taxes but they contribute for the nation’s economy, therefore, it is humane to extend help to them I this time of uncertainties.

  46. As a recent graduate and on a work permit, I have been affected by the covid 19 pandemic. I have paid an amount significantly more than a domestic student in tuition fee. I have also been paying domestic taxes. Due to travel restrictions, I cannot go back home at present and there is no clarity on when the restrictions will be lifted.
    Like everyone, I need to pay my bills and the CESB would be of great help.
    If the CESB can extend to include international students and recent graduates with the condition that they repay it in future, that would be of great help.

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