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Toronto, May 2 (Canadian-Media): Lauding Canada's innumerable policy decisions taken to alleviate the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians, Canada India Foundation (CIF), in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, made an appeal to include international students in the Canada Emergency Student Benefits (CESB) program announced on 22 April, media reports said.
The CIF was taken aback at the exclusion of the international students from the purview of the CESB program, under which the federal government pledged to provide $1,250 per month for eligible students from May through August 2020, and $1,750 for students with dependents and those with permanent disabilities.
Circumstances of international students, said Anil Shah, Chair, CIF was in no way materially different from those of local students, and justifies their inclusion in this CESB.
Shah added that by not doing so, contributions made by international students to Canada's economy and to its post-secondary education system are being overlooked.
Anil Shah. Image credit: Website
The CESB program is meant for post-secondary students and recent graduates who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or for Employment Insurance (EI), but who are unable to find employment due to COVID-19.
In the communication to the Prime Minister, CIF clearly explained the dire situation of the international students due to the disruption of their academic programs, rescheduling or cancellation of their internships due to start in summer.
These students have also been deprived of their subsistence wages as most businesses have closed down due to lockdown implications.
Social distancing requirements have forced them to live in cramped places, with no chance of returning home.
Statistical information available in the public domain pertaining to the international students in Canada and their role in the Canadian economy was also provided by the CIF.
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), population of international students increased by 13 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year, which reached to 642,000.
Over the past 20 years, international student population has grown six-fold and in the last decade alone, it has tripled.
Statics reveal that over 2,25,000 of international students in Canada from India account for just under 350 percent since 2014.
Emphasizing the contribution of these students to the Canadian economy, Satish Thakkar, National Convener, CIF, accounts for around $22 billion, and it supports over 170,000 Canadian jobs and meet the shortage of skilled workers, by working part time while studying and working full time after completing their studies.
Satish Thakkar. Image credit: Website
Thakkar added that by supporting them at this very critical time Canada can encourage future flow of international students from all over the world.
In 2019, the Canadian Experience Class an immigration pathway designed for international students and foreign workers accounted for 34 percent of new immigrants in Canada.
Since the lockdown was introduced in Ontario, CIF has actively been helping international students from India who are facing financial and other challenges.
Recognizing the disastrous impact of COVID-19 on international students, CIF has been extensively outreaching to help them, said Pankaj Dave, National Co-Convener, CIF
Pankaj Dave. Image credit: Website
"But what will really help them is financial assistance. We urge the federal government to understand the plight of these international students and help them by including them in the CESB program,” said Dave.