Dec 13, 2023
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is disappointed in the recent measures announced by the federal government to double the financial requirement for international students. This announcement shifts the financial burden onto students rather than actively addressing the issues international students face, such as skyrocketing tuition fees, extremely high rents,precarious housing, and exorbitant cost of healthcare due to being excluded from OHIP.
Through the high tuition costs that remain deregulated,international students have been a financial backstop for a deeply underfunded public post-secondary education system. While operating grants remain critically low, the provincial government has given post-secondary administrations the authority to fill funding gaps through public-private partnerships, cuts to student services, and deregulated international student fees. Additionally, many moves have been made to ensure that the future of education is private, including through deregulation of private career colleges, which has led to international students paying tens of thousands more while the quality of education continues to diminish. The new measures doubling the financial requirement for international students only serves to create new barriers and limitations to education.
It is no coincidence that these measures come as the government fails to deal with the rising cost of living, record inflation, and parallel increases in corporate profit and power. Unfortunately, this narrative only serves to increase and normalize anti-immigrant discrimination, and attacks those who are victims of these conditions, not those who further it.
We condemn the use of student visas as a bargaining chip in the housing crisis. The narrative that international students are taking up housing has been a xenophobic and politically convenient route for policymakers to take rather than addressing the high cost of living and commodification of housing through stronger regulations. International students are not to blame for the housing crisis; massively unaffordable rents, corporate landlords, short-term rentals, and a lack of social housing all play a role in a system where housing and shelter is treated as a for-profit business rather than a fundamental human right.
The Federation urges the federal government to abandon its policies that blame international students for their financial situation. Instead of shifting the financial burden onto international students, the federal government, in tandem with the provinces, should work to address the skyrocketing tuition fees, the high cost-of-living and inflation, as well as record high rents at the source. The government, both federally and provincially, must ensure that post-secondary education is fully accessible and publicly-funded.
The Federation also strongly recommends the federal government work towards a federal plan for post-secondary education that includes the permanent removal of the 20 hour work limit and ensures that international students have access to an education that is of high-quality, fully publicly-funded, and free and accessible for all. All levels of the government must put students first over profit.
The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the oldest and largest student organization in Ontario, representing over 350,000 college and university students in every region of the province.
For further information or to set up an interview, contact:
Mitra Yakubi, CFS-Ontario Chairperson, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Isobel McDonald, CFS-Ontario Government Relations & Policy Coordinator, at email@example.com