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Inflation adds to homestay costs in Canada

With food costs rising quickly across Canada, international students are facing higher fees for homestay accommodations in 2022.

Stakeholders have said that the cost of living in Canadian cities such as Vancouver is "much higher" now than a year ago. Photo: pixabay

At Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, the fees were raised on January 1 from $875 to $1,000

The country’s inflation rate jumped to 4.7% in November as Covid-related supply chain issues caused shortages of some items in supermarkets. Furthermore, Canada’s Food Price Report, which is prepared by researchers at Dalhousie and Guelph universities, predicts that groceries will cost between 5-7% more this year.

With most homestays providing two or three meals per day, several programs are increasing host payments to offset higher food costs. Many homestay managers view better compensation as vital to retain existing hosts and attract new ones. Some families are forwarding news articles about rising food prices to homestay managers in a bid to get more money.

At Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, the fees were raised on January 1 from $875 to $1,000. That’s an increase of 14.3%. Homestay staff member Rika Kimura says the program wanted to help hosts with soaring food expenses.

ILAC, one of Canada’s largest language schools with locations in Toronto and Vancouver, recently increased its homestay fees. “All prices have gone up in Vancouver and the cost of living is much higher now,” said Yulia Kanava, ILAC’s homestay manager.

“[Families] deserve appropriate compensation”

“Families are doing tremendous work in these uncertain times, taking care of students’ safety and preparing proper meals. They deserve appropriate compensation.”

ILAC gives its families an additional amount for hosting minors, recognising the extra responsibilities of ensuring that youth are safe and monitoring their 11:00pm curfew. As well, ILAC will pay more to long-time hosts who provide students with a wonderful experience and have a home in a great location.

Not everyone is raising rates. MLI Homestay offers international student accommodations in a number of cities in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. Spokeswoman Cheryl Lee said that MLI is holding the line on homestay fees.

The resort town of Whistler, BC, continues to have the highest rates in the country. The Sea to Sky School District pays hosts $1,500 per month in Whistler. That’s up 25% from 2019, when the rate was $1,200 per month.

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