Canadians are well aware that the cost of living is becoming untenable. 

We see prices go up every time we’re at the grocery store, we know that waitlists for affordable housing units can be seven to 10 years long, and we scroll real estate or rental listings the same way we open the fridge and hope that better food will have materialized than when we last checked half an hour ago. 

Not to mention, we pay the highest telecommunication rates in the world. 

However, many Canada-bound international students either missed the memo, were misled by crooked immigration agents, or, have decided that they’d rather assume our affordability problems than the problems in their home country. 

According to reports from the Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women, a Toronto-based nonprofit organization, female international students – mostly of South Asian origin – are turning to prostitution to pay their high rents and costly tuition fees. 

The PIE News, a news organization for professionals in international education, discovered that numerous erotic massage parlours and escort services in the Greater Toronto Area specifically advertise services from Indian international students.

“Brampton is where we see the hub of exploitation happening,” Elspeth Heyworth Centre executive director Sunder Singh told The PIE.

“Parents have sold their land and jewellery and their assets to send the child here to Canada with the hope that, you know, once he or she gets them permanent resident status, then the family will be called here.”

Singh also said that at the Brampton hospital, the monthly abortion rate has skyrocketed: “Some of the doctors have said that this was unheard of… of course if you are working in the sex trade, many men don’t want to use protection.”

Moreover, if the female Indian students are struggling to pay their rent, there are numerous cases where landlords will suggest or demand sexual acts instead. 

(Have you ever seen basement suite rental listings that say “Indian female only”? I know I have…)

Unfortunately, high rent costs in Canada are only exacerbated by the influx of immigrants and temporary residents like international students, as demand for housing in Canada far exceeds supply. 

In Cape Breton, NS, where international students make up 70% of the local university’s enrolment, there is a severe housing shortage. The international students end up cramming themselves into dilapidated units, as that is the only way they can afford their lives here. One student from India died in a house fire last year, and it was found that eight international students were living in one side of the duplex, and five in the other.

In 2022, there were 807,750 study permit holders in Canada.

This is the Canada we live in now, where vulnerable South Asian female students have to put themselves in traumatizing and dangerous situations so that greedy Canadian university officials can get their bloated salaries and landlords can get their profits.

Apparently, we are still regarded as a first-world country.


  • Lindsay Shepherd

    Lindsay holds an M.A. in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory from Wilfrid Laurier University. She has been published in The Post Millennial, Maclean’s, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, and Quillette.