Life as a post-secondary student can be a daunting task.
Trying to balance keeping up grades while finding the means to pay pricey tuition and living costs is a challenge for many even during the best of times.
But now factor in a pandemic that’s gashed the economy, and it has become an uphill battle that hasn’t been seen in generations.
“I get so many students approaching me [saying] that they’re not getting jobs,” said Puneet Kaur, Executive of the Camosun College Student Society.
Kaur, an international student from India, says many international students have lost their jobs during the pandemic, or can’t get one at all.
“It’s really hard for them to go about with their expenses for their fees. Right now they have paid their fees for first year. But They might have the financial stress with how they will arrange their fees for upcoming semesters.” Kaur said.
Typically, international students that are in Canada on a student visa are normally only allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week when classes are in session, but the federal government dropped those requirements if the student is working in an essential service job such as health care, critical infrastructure, or food services.
However, since many international students are not Canadian permanent residents or citizens, they do not have access to the financial relief packages the federal government has put forth for Canadians, meaning many students could be in trouble.
For fellow Camosun student Katrina Mcneely, it’s a slightly different situation. She’s found some part-time work, but with the expensive housing costs, she lives with four other students. It helps cut the cost of rent, but it amplifies possible exposure to COVID-19.
“If you have five different people trying to find five different jobs at restaurants or tourist attractions here in Victoria, that adds up really quickly and makes it very difficult for us to try and limit or interactions and limit how large our social circle is.” Said Mcneely.
With a lack of summer jobs, and with cancellations of internships and co-ops the federal government stepped in this week unveiling the Canada Student Service Grant which will give certain eligible post-secondary students and recent graduates who decide to volunteer a one-time payment between one and five thousand dollars. International students that are not citizens, however, are not eligible for the program.