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Alarming Rise in International Student Deaths in Canada, Concerns Raised Over Vulnerability

Team Parvasi – Inside

In the period from 2018 to 2023, a staggering 403 international students from India lost their lives while pursuing education globally, as reported by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Canada emerged as the most concerning location, with 91 fatalities, constituting over one-fifth of the total deaths, followed by the U.K. (48), Russia (40), the U.S. (36), and Australia (35).

Expressing deep concern over the vulnerability of international students, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) emphasized the need for collaborative efforts with provinces, territories, and learning institutions to address student-related concerns. In a statement to ThePrint in December, the IRCC acknowledged that although education falls under provincial/territorial responsibility, joint action is crucial.

According to MEA’s report, Canada ranks as the second most preferred destination for Indian students studying abroad, with 567,607 students between 2018 and 2022, closely trailing the U.S., which hosted 621,336 students during the same period.

Various factors, such as natural causes, accidents, and medical conditions, contribute to these unfortunate deaths, according to the MEA. Arindam Bagchi, an MEA spokesperson, urged a careful examination of the numbers concerning Indian students in Canada, emphasizing the need to consider the causes, whether violence, accidents, or other factors.

Recent reports indicate a disturbing trend, with at least 47 international students from India succumbing to drug overdoses or suicide in Surrey, B.C., over the past two years. A community member noted an additional 30 deaths based on GoFundMe pages.

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The issue extends beyond Canada, as a funeral home in Ontario revealed a rate of about five repatriations to India per month, some attributed to suicide. The Consulate General of India in Toronto reported that out of 173,935 students with a valid permit in Ontario in 2022, 22 had died, including four by suicide.

Obtaining accurate figures on international student suicides is challenging, as they are often not recorded separately by local police. Despite these challenges, the concerns persist, with financial strains, mental well-being, and dissatisfaction with support services identified as contributing factors.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland highlighted the significant economic contribution of international students to Canada, constituting a major driver of the country’s economic growth. The Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE) estimates that students from India make up 40 percent of inbound students, contributing a substantial $22 billion annually to the Canadian economy.

However, a 2021 CBIE survey revealed dissatisfaction among international students, with 16 percent dissatisfied with financial support and 20 percent dissatisfied with mental health services. The non-profit OneVoice Canada’s 2021 report linked financial pressures to students working more than the allowed 20 hours and susceptibility to unscrupulous employers. Financial strains were also identified as factors in suicides and overdoses.

As of 2023, international undergraduate students in Canada face tuition costs of approximately $36,100 per year, with living expenses adding an additional $15,000 annually, according to Statistics Canada.

Parvasi Weekly Inc.

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