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Manitoba HEIs supporting int’l students’ health

HEIs in the Canadian province of Manitoba are gearing up to support their international students who, as of September 2018, will lose access to the free provincial healthcare program they had been included in since 2012.

The University of Winnipeg will cover the cost of health insurance until April 2019. Photo: Krazy Tea/ Wikimedia Commons

The provincial government announced the amendment to the Health Services Insurances Act earlier this year

Institutions are now offering alternative healthcare plans developed with health insurance providers, in some cases waiving costs for the first year in a bit to help students get adjusted to the new regime.

The provincial government announced the amendment to the Health Services Insurances Act to exclude international students from access to universal healthcare earlier this year.

“It was quite a sudden announcement…the cost is not something they can just immediately take on”

The move was criticised by some stakeholders in the industry, with some fearing it would deter students from choosing the province.

The timing of the announcement (end of March) meant international student recruitment wasn’t affected, Susan Taylor, director of the international centre at the University of Manitoba told The PIE News.

But it was crucial to support students transition into the new regulations, and the plans put in place by institutions may have reassured students who were applying, she said.

The institution allocated CA$ 3.2m to cover the costs for international students for the next academic year, offering the same coverage that they had under Manitoba Health in partnership with Blue Cross and StudentCare. Coverage for dependents and families will be available at an additional cost.

“It was quite a sudden announcement…the cost is not something they can just immediately take on,” Taylor explained.

“Next year’s students will go on to the private insurance, so they will be covering the cost. This is meant to help them to have time to save up.”

Taylor added that the university is negotiating a deal for next year.

The University of Winnipeg has a similar plan in place, with costs covered for basic health coverage until April 2019 and negotiations underway for next year.

“We are working with other post-secondary institutions in Manitoba to secure the best possible health insurance coverage and rates for [international students],” executive director marketing and communication Kevin Rosen told The PIE.

Private institution Booth University College is offering an alternative International Student Health Plan, in partnership with Gallivan Student Health and Wellness. The cost of CA$730 will be included in the tuition fees.

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