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International students find it unfair that they have to pay additional tuition fees

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Source: PEI Legislature

An Indian who came to Canada as a foreign student told Prince Edward Island's parliament on Thursday that it was unfair that he had to pay three times as much for his education as a Canadian citizen.

Because of the “extra” money Rupinderpal Singh spent on his education in Ontario and his taxes while in Canada, he believes he should have “the same rights” as a Canadian.

“In total, I paid around $30,000 for my studies. For the same tuition fee, a person born and raised in Canada would pay around $10,000,” Singh said. “$20,000 extra for the same thing and still suffer. How unfair is that?”

A look at universities in India, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, shows that international students have to pay more than twice what local students in India pay on average.

The Canadian government also subsidizes post-secondary education to keep tuition fees low for domestic students.

“If we pay the same taxes, why don’t we have the same rights?” Singh said.

He said it was unfair that foreign students “invest” so much money in Canada in the form of tuition fees and other expenses, only to be asked to leave the country.

Singh and Jaspreet Singh testified before the committee to persuade the provincial government not to deport them after their temporary work visas expired.

An agreement with the province which, by its nature, offers no guarantees for the period after the visa expires.

Singh represents a group protesting the Prince Edward Island government's decision to cut the number of nominations for permanent residency under its Provincial Nominee Program by 25% to address the housing crisis.

The decision could result in many immigrants' work visas not being renewed and them having to return to their countries of origin.

Singh said the island's housing and affordability crisis was not the fault of temporary residents, but of the provincial government, which had failed to pay attention to how much they could accommodate.

They believe that anyone who lived in the province before the decision to limit the PNP should be protected and allowed to stay long enough to obtain permanent residency.

The province said it would only extend work visas for the construction and healthcare sectors, as these professions are in the highest demand on the island.

Singh said this was also unfair as not everyone could work in the in-demand jobs like construction. He argued that more women would also be affected as they would be less likely to work in the industry.

Speakers argued that deporting temporary foreign workers would ruin the province's low-skilled service sector and would also lead to a decline in GDP.

As of April 24, 2024, unemployment in Prince Edward Island was 6.80%. However, non-permanent residents make up 6.32% of Prince Edward Island's total population, or about 9.43% of the working-age population.

For those without permanent residency who want to make Canada their permanent home, the prospect of deportation in a few months leaves them feeling “emotionally, financially and psychologically unstable,” according to Singh.

Singh said if their visas expired, they would be deported not only from the province but also from Canada.