International students among those facing pressure over rising costs

Inflation is increasing the burden on international students living in Manitoba. Temi Olatunde reports.

By Temi Olatunde

With escalating costs of everything, international students are faced with excessive financial burdens that impact them physically and mentally.

In addition to recent tuition hikes and the lack of health care coverage, the rise in cost, especially in necessities leave students vulnerable to instability, threatening their food and housing security.

“We are trying to find some bank, food banks that can help them throughout the city so they can have like necessities like bread or canned food. They are relying on their parents from back home, they are relying on the work they can do here, plus they have a limited amount of time they can work here as an international student,” explained Marie Paule, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students in Manitoba.

Paule says that some students are experiencing homelessness. She says trying to keep up with the ever-rising tuition costs, and inflation, have students taking on multiple jobs

“Two, three, four jobs. I know some students work four jobs. I honestly don’t know how it’s possible and I’m worried about their mental health, their physical health because they don’t have a life and they barely sleep basically.”

She says that lack of provincial health coverage is another factor of excessive spending made by international students.

“Then we had the pandemic, which was worse because anything international students had to do in the hospital was not covered at all,” she explained. “Can you imagine? Sometimes consultation range from $100 – $500. Some of the exams were like a thousand. Some international students that got pregnant were paying about $20,000 – $35,000 to give birth.”

She says restoring health coverage and putting a tuition cap on fees are steps the government can take to ease spending made by international students.

“Have the government put some tuition cap or tuition freeze to international turion and fees because they pay between 2-3 times more than domestic students.”

President of the University of Manitoba Pakistani Student Association, Saud Chowdhary says, that international students cannot always get help back home.

“Students have to find ways to earn their income so that they can support themselves so that they don’t have to get money from home, because the situation back home in Pakistan, in India, is also not that great because of the current flooding, and there is huge inflation in those countries as well,” explained Chowdhary.

Chowdhary adds that international students should be allowed to work more than the current set limit of 20 hours per week in the fall and winter terms.

“If we are allowed to work more than 20 hours, what that does is we have an increase in our income which means that we are able to manage our finances better.”

President of the Red River College Polytechnic Student Association, Manpreet Kaur, says that mental health initiatives are very crucial because the students are under a lot of pressure that lead them to depression, and some become suicidal.

“If they mention suicide or they mention things like I don’t want to live, it is too much, I can’t bear it. You should always take them to the mental health department. You should recommend them. You should encourage them. Mental health initiatives always help them. There are supports, but we are requesting the government to provide more support, more funding for mental health so they are mentally stable.”

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