International students in Brampton, Ontario sounded the alarm about the high costs of living, inflation, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “dictatorship” as they continued a protest outside their university.
Several students, mostly from Punjab, India, were part of a days-long demonstration outside Algoma university facilities demanding answers in regard to their tuition fees. The students were surprised by how expensive daily life has become in Canada since their arrival.
Canadians have struggled recently in some of the most basic ways. For example, according to Food Banks Canada, in March 2023, over 1.9 million people visited food banks that month alone, a 32 per cent increase. About 17 per cent of those people were employed. At the same time, some food banks had reported servicing nearly triple the amount of people per month than they had five years prior.
In addition to rising costs of living, international students pay much higher tuition fees than citizens or permanent residents. According to official government statistics, international undergraduate students can expect to pay around $36,000 per year in tuition, while international graduate students average just over $21,000.
Reporter Mocha Bezirgan asked the protesters if their experience as students in Canada had been what they envisioned.
“Is this what you imagined Canada would be?” Bezirgan asked.
“Never. No one ever expected this. Being in our home country and looking all over the world, people always think that something would be better,” one student replied. “But, after landing in certain countries, for example Canada, people get to know the reality."
“The reality check is a must-have,” he added.
The student explained that inflation and the living costs has made him wish he chose another country to pursue his education.
“You very well know the rent, the grocery items ... inflation has [everything] very high,” he continued. “Right now, I would say people should stay in their own country. For the current time period I would not suggest anyone to move out of their own country as inflation has hit the whole world.”
“Do something with your own country,” the man urged.
Another protester was shocked at the lack of facilities and service standards upon arriving in Canada: “We thought it was a developed country so we will get more facilities, everything will be better for a work lifestyle, this situation has made up our mind in the opposite direction.”
A third student called Canada a “scam,” with an unending amount of taxes.
“Even I want to run out of Canada, it's a scam, man. Just paying a number of taxes, number of taxes, number of taxes,” he repeated. "Nobody is going to repair the roads … farmers are angry, business owners are angry with government.”
The foreign student then state that Canadians are being “exploited like a dictatorship,” adding that Justin Trudeau is “the next Kim Jong [Un].” “Canada is going to be North Korea in a few years if this thing [keeps] happening.”
The students were also asked if they felt that the mainstream media had accurately portrayed what they had seen in the country with their own eyes.
The men stated that the government has “controlled the channels” and has shut down voices “if they show something against the government,” or suggest that the government has not adequately supported international students.
The students were protesting outside Algoma University’s administration building for nearly a week after allegedly being failed multiple times on the same course. The students claimed that they had not been shown why they were failed.
Some of the students said that they believed the school was using it as a tactic to financially exploit them.
Algoma University’s manager of marketing and communications was contacted by Media Bezirgan about the claims, but declined to comment or be interviewed on the subject.