As public funding for post-secondary institutions steadily declined over the past several decades, international student tuition became a means for cash-strapped universities to bring in desperately needed revenue. As one of the largest demographics of students in Canada, international students contribute massively to the funding of post-secondary institutions through tuition fees up to 4 times higher than their domestic peers. This for-profit model of education exploits the economic, social and cultural contributions that international students bring to our society by indebting learners from abroad for the benefit of Canadian citizens. International students are valued members of our campus communities and should be treated with fairness.
In 2018, the Province cut off over 15 000 international students in Manitoba from accessing public healthcare. The change took effect in September 2018, without any student consultation, and was explained as a means to save $3.1 million. By the same government’s estimation, international students contribute over $400 million to the Manitoba economy and occupy over 4,250 jobs – essentially paying income and sales taxes without full access to the public services they pay for.
The loss of healthcare coverage combined with drastically increasing tuition fees puts international students wellbeing at risk while also eliminating a key incentive for future students to choose Manitoba as a place to study. COVID-19 has created even more uncertainty for international students who are currently paying out-of-pocket to access healthcare throughout a pandemic and economic crisis. Education and healthcare are both public goods and human rights which must remain accessible for whoever needs them.