International students in Canada wonder where to seek help during COVID-19 crisis
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made many efforts in providing aid and support for Canadian citizens in these tough times, from Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit and the Employment Insurance Benefit.
However, until now there has been no update for those who have come to Canada to study and are living with a student visa, and now are wondering where to seek help.
International students are hoping to get more information from the government, on a possibility for an extension of student visas, or the ability to apply for Employment Insurance Benefits as part-time employees.
As all education institutions have moved online, and the non-essential businesses were asked to shut down amid the COVID-19 outbreak, international students are finding it difficult to pay for rent and afford basic foods.
Their careers and internships have come to a halt, and many of them were laid off.
They are thousands of miles away from home and some live without any families to support them here. They are worried about their future, and how they will survive through this, with no family or big network.
“I am worried about my future… my plans have changed,” said Ritika Dubey, a post-grad journalism student at Sheridan College near Toronto.
Dubey is from India and she got laid off from her job at Style Encore as a social media associate. Her internship at CBC that was supposed to start on April 6, has also been put to halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She does not have family here or a big support network, since they are all back home in India. She is surviving with her savings. She is currently applying to jobs in Canada before her student visa expires on July 31.
She must find a job within a year of her graduating, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it will be difficult.
“It’s been hard, and I don’t know what to do… I don’t want to go back to India,” she says.
Dubey lives off-campus, renting a room in a house. In an effort to not make her feel lonely, she has a family that welcomed her and care for her and her well-being.
There are over 500,000 international students in Canada, with more than 50 per cent coming from two countries: India and China. Many of these students cannot return home and are struggling to afford their necessities.
Snehal Kataruka, 22, is a journalism student from Mumbai who came to study in Canada and was hoping to make connections here in hopes of getting a job later.
She was working at a retail store as a part-time employee, but since Ontario called for a shutdown of non-essential businesses, Kataruka was laid off.
And now that internships and field placements have been suspended by employers, she is worried that she will not be able to find a job.
Shivyoshita Sood, 22, originally from India, works at a Walmart in Canada full-time since her college classes have moved online.
Sood has considered not working due to the fear of contracting the coronavirus, but it would not be easy. “It would be difficult for my parents to send money… and because the exchange rate is low, it would not be enough for me to live with in Canada,” she says.
“I hope that the government can consider us and try to help us out during this difficult time.”
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