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Canada sees ‘reverse immigration’; cost-of-living requirement for international students doubled | Details here

Emigration as a percentage of Canada’s overall population touched a high of 0.2 per cent in the mid-1990s, and currently stands at about 0.09 per cent, according to official government data.

The rate of immigrants leaving Canada hit a two-decade high in 2019, according to a recent report from the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), an immigration advocacy group. While the numbers went down during pandemic lockdowns, Statistics Canada data shows it is once again rising.

How much is the cost of living in Canada?

Reuters interview a few people who have either left the country or are preparing to do so, because of the high cost of living. Many immigrants blamed the skyrocketing housing costs as the biggest reason for their decision to consider a new country.

On average in Canada about 60 per cent of household income would be needed to cover home ownership costs, a figure that rises to about 98 per cent for Vancouver and 80 per cent for Toronto, Reuters cited data from Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) September report.

Cara, 25, who came to Canada in 2022 as a refugee from Hong Kong, now pays C$650 ($474) in monthly rent for a single-room basement apartment in Scarborough, north of Toronto, which is about 30 per cent of her monthly take-home salary. ($1 = 1.3718 Canadian dollars)

Cara works three part-time jobs, making Ontario’s minimum wage of C$16.55 per hour, and goes to an adult learning school to earn university credits. “I almost use every single penny,” she was quoted as saying. In Hong Kong, she was able to save about a third of her monthly salary.

Stankus, who pays C$2,000, including utilities, for a one-bedroom apartment, said increasing living expenses has made it difficult to afford basic necessities. “With a graduate student’s budget, it is not sustainable,” Stankus said.

Canada ‘more than doubles’ cost-of-living requirement for international students

Canada will more than double the cost-of-living financial requirement for incoming international students beginning January 1, Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced recently. 

The move will impact the arrival of foreign students in the country, including from India.

ALSO READ: An exhaustive guide for Indian students who want to study in Canada

Starting next year, prospective students will need to show they have access to Canadian dollars (CAD) 20,635 instead of the current requirement of CAD 10,000 — a limit that had been in place for two decades — in addition to paying for travel and tuition.

Miller said the financial requirement had not kept up with the cost of living over time, resulting in students arriving in Canada only to learn that they did not have adequate funds. This change will apply to new study permit applications received on or after January 1.

ALSO READ: Canada implements stricter rules for international students, may ‘limit visas’. Here’s why

India was first among the top 10-origin countries for study permit holders in 2022 in Canada, with 319,000 students. Moreover, Canada is among the preferred destinations for people from Punjab to study and settle down.

Several aspirants’ parents in Punjab were quoted by PTI as saying that Canada’s move to more than double the cost-of-living requirement for incoming international students will put an additional financial burden on people sending their children to study in that country.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 09 Dec 2023, 11:01 PM IST