Source: PEI Legislature

An Indian man who came to Canada as an international student said in the Prince Edward Island legislature Thursday that it was unfair that he had to pay three times as much as a Canadian citizen for his education.

Because of the “extra” money Rupinderpal Singh spent on his education in Ontario and his taxes during his stay in Canada, he said he should have “equal rights” as a Canadian.

“Altogether, I paid around $30,000 for my tuition. For the same schooling fee, a person born and raised in Canada paid around $10,000,” Singh said. “An extra $20,000 for the same thing, and still suffering. How unfair is that?” 

A look at universities in India, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, shows that international students have to pay more than double what domestic students pay on average in India.

The Canadian government also subsidizes post-secondary education to keep tuition for domestic students low.

“If paying equal taxes, then why not equal rights?” Singh said.

He said it’s unfair that international students “invest” so much money into Canada via tuition and other spending only to be told to leave the country.

Singh and Jaspreet Singh, were testifying before the committee to lobby the provincial government not to deport them after their temporary work visas expire.

An agreement with the province that, by its nature, does not guarantee anything past the visa’s expiry.

Singh represents a group protesting the P.E.I. government’s decision to reduce the number of permanent residency nominees through their Provincial Nominee Program by 25% to address the housing crisis.

The decision may result in many immigrants not having their work visas renewed, meaning they would have to go back to their countries of origin.

Singh said the housing and affordability crisis on the island is not the fault of the temporary residents but of the provincial government for not paying attention to how much they could accommodate.

They believe anyone who lived in the province before the decision to cap the PNP should be grandfathered in and allowed to stay long enough to become a permanent resident.

The province said it would only extend work visas for the construction and healthcare industries, as those are the most in-demand jobs on the island.

Singh said this is also unfair as not everyone can work in those jobs that are in demand such as construction. He argued more women would be affected as well, as they are less likely to work in the industry.

The speakers argued that the province’s low-skilled service industry would be devastated if the temporary foreign workers were deported, and the move would also shrink GDP.

As of April 24, 2024, P.E.I. unemployment was 6.80%. However, non-permanent residents make up 6.32% of the total population of PEI or about 9.43% of the working-age population.

For non-permanent residents looking to make Canada their permanent home, the prospect of deportation in a couple of months is causing them to be “emotionally, financially and mentally unstable,” according to Singh.

Singh said that if their visas expired, they would be kicked out of Canada, not just the province.