The Runner | A group of international students calls for the elimination of monthly provincial health fees

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SFU’s Migrant Student Union advocates for the elimination of international student health fees. (Submitted)

Simon Fraser University’s Migrant Student United (MSU) is campaigning to eliminate healthcare fees for international students.

On January 1, 2020, the Medicare Plan (MSP) was eliminated as promised by the Government of British Columbia. Although registration remains mandatory, residents of British Columbia no longer pay MSP premiums.

However, the province updated the method of payment for international students to “ensure that all international students continue to contribute to and benefit from health care coverage in British Columbia”. On September 1, 2019, all K-12 and post-secondary international students on a study permit were required to pay a monthly health fee of $37.50. But on the same day MSP premiums were scrapped for BC residents in 2020, international student healthcare costs increased to $75 per month.

“It’s a sad thing happening here, because we are so affected by the scene – being away from family and everything, it all adds to the stress of being treated unfairly,” said WeiChun Kua, founder of MSU and a graduate of Simon Fraser University. .

Kua was a board member of the student society SFU which advocated for international students. Over the past year, Kua and other students have trained MSU at SFU. He says it’s part of a bigger chapter in Vancouver.

“We are connected to the Migrants Worker Alliance, which also has a United Migrant Student National Chapter…. They are made up of former and current international students,” he says.

Kua says they are a justice collective.

“Students face a lot of hardship, not just financial hardship,” he says.

“For example, if both parents have a study permit, they must both pay $75 [per month] each. If you have children on a study permit, they will also have to pay $75 to [each] child too. It really affects families of international students,” says Kua.

If fees are waived, Kua says it will ease the burden on international students who are already paying high tuition fees, in addition to rent and food.

Kua says even the immigration process in Canada is difficult for international students.

International students are limit work 20 hours per week in off-campus jobs with a study permit if considered a full-time student. International students can work full-time or work overtime during a scheduled school break, such as summer or winter break.

Employers of international students also perceive the employer health taxbut according to MSU, there is no subsequent deduction “counted against international student health costs owed.”

“It represents a double deduction to varying degrees,” according to the USM website. “A student working 20 hours a week at $15 an hour will generate approximately $25 in revenue per month for the BC government. »

At the Kwantlen Student Union council meeting on July 15, Kusa represented MSU to make a presentation to council members about the campaign. The board passed a motion in favor of eliminating health fees for international students.

“[There] had really positive responses. We held a town hall for international students, not just for international students at SFU, but for all international students. Students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University who participated talked about the fees and how it affects them,” says Kua.

The KSA has discussed hosting MSU for an on-campus event, but no date has yet been set.

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