International students demonstrate for universal health care in Manitoba

In 2018, the province scrapped universal health care for international students to save an estimated $3.1 million.

Four years later, some say the price of medical bills they have to pay is prohibitive and unfair.

Kunal Rajpal, a student from India, has had to cover medical expenses since 2019.

Seems a bit unfair, when everyone here is able to get treatment for free. »

A quote from Kunal Rajpal, foreign student

According to Kunal Rajpal, international students face many obstacles when they come to study in Manitoba, including culture shock, course load and being away from family.

On top of that, we need to understand how the province’s health coverage works. It becomes very difficulthe laments.

The president of the Student Association of the University of Saint-Boniface, Michelle Kambire, originally from Côte d’Ivoire, agrees.

A student since 2019, Michelle Kambire explains that the health coverage she pays for through the University is not recognized at many health care facilities.

We are therefore obliged to pay for our health care and then to be reimbursed by the insurance.

Michelle Kambire adds that many students are afraid to go to the hospital for treatment.

These are sums that can represent thousands of dollars in health costs, and it becomes really problematic. »

A quote from Michelle Kambire, President of the Student Association of the Université de Saint-Boniface

According to the campaign coordinator for the Canadian Federation of Manitoba Students and spokesperson for the coalition Healthcare for AllJudith Oviosun, there are misconceptions circulating about foreign students, particularly that they take advantage of the province.

Judith Oviosun believes the province is taking advantage of the students.

We know that students pay the taxes, they contribute to the culture, to the social life of our communityshe says in front of the Legislative Building in Winnipeg.

A woman in front of a demonstration.

Marie Paule Ehoussou is President of the Canadian Federation of Manitoba Students.

Photo: Radio-Canada

The President of the Canadian Federation of Manitoba Students, Marie Paule Ehoussou, considers it important that international students have access to health security in order to continue to participate actively in the economy of the province.

Not having access to health care can have mental consequences on the person. If someone is sick, he cannot work and cannot be active in societyshe adds.

The opposition supports the process

In recent months, Manitoba’s two opposition parties, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party, have read petitions in the House asking the government to back down, but the Conservative government is not backing down.

According to New Democrat Leader Wab Kinew, universal access to health care is not only a human rights issue, but also an economic issue.

International students come here to study, but decide to stay in Manitobahe explained in an interview during the demonstration. It goes without saying to support the interests of these students.

NDP MP for St. Vital, Jamie Moses, is calling on Post-Secondary Education Minister Jon Reyes to restore universal health care for international students.

The Minister may have forgotten, but international students are already paying so much more for tuition, and the fact that he is forcing them to pay for private medical coverage as well increases their financial hardship.argues Jamie Moses.

Jon Reyes for his part mentioned that the government invests more than 1 billion dollars in post-secondary education annually to ensure a quality education for all students, without exception. He believes that Jamie Moses sows fear among students.

In an email sent to CBCa spokesperson for the province says post-secondary institutions are working with the province to provide comprehensive medical coverage for international students.

With information from Ian Froese and Mario De Ciccio

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