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Living in ‘unsuitable housing’, Indian students face increased hostility and discrimination in Canada

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Shillong, May 24: A fresh Canadian government report says that students from India were more likely to live in unsuitable housing than their counterparts from other countries.

 

According to the report released by Statistics Canada using the most recent census data, international students were more likely to live in unsuitable housing in 2021 than Canadian-born students.

 

In the top 10 municipalities with the largest number of international students, 25 to 63 per cent of them were living in unsuitable housing, the report said.

 

By comparison, the rate of students living in unsuitable housing was 13 to 45 percentage points lower among Canadian-born students aged 18 to 24, the Canadian Press reported on Thursday.

 

One of the requirements for suitable housing was that adults should have their own bedroom if they are not part of a couple.

 

The report also found that country of origin accounted for most of the variations between municipalities in rates of housing suitability among international students.

 

“Notably, Indian students were more likely to live in unsuitable housing than students from other countries. In Brampton, Ontario, and Surrey, the municipalities with the largest proportions of Indian students, more than 60 per cent of international students were living in unsuitable housing,” the Canadian national news agency said citing the report.

 

Canada has been a major destination for many Indian students for the past few years. Among the international students, those from India constituted the largest national cohort, comprising 37 per cent of the 579,075 permits issued until November 2023.

 

The surge in the number of Indian students studying in Canada has been substantial over the past five years, rising from 107,070 in 2018 to the current figures.

 

The Statistics Canada report comes amid reports of many Indian students in Canada’s Prince Edward Island facing deportation due to the recent changes in the province’s immigration rules.

 

Observers say that Indian students in Canada have been facing increased hostility and discrimination in recent days.

 

Studying in Canada used to be considered a rewarding experience for many Indian students in the past. However, this perception has changed as the Canadian federal and provincial provinces are creating an unsafe and hostile environment for international students in general, and Indian students in particular.

 

Prince Edward Island (PEI) in Canada is a case in point. The smallest province in the country has introduced a policy of reducing 25 per cent immigration permits, triggering protests by Indian students earlier this week.

 

As a result of this policy change, hundreds of Indian students have faced deportation. Also, the reduction of work permits has resulted in frustration and tension among Indian immigrants who arrived in PEI on temporary work permits. They argue they should be allowed to stay permanently.

 

However, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that it was not aware of Indian students’ deportation from the Canadian province.

 

“A large number of students have gone to Canada to study. The figure is pretty significant. But we haven’t come across several students facing deportation… We do not have any updates on that. We are not aware. There may be one case here or one case there. But we don’t see any major problem as far as students in Canada are concerned,” MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said last week.

 

In 2023, a survey done by the Canadian Association of University Teachers also found that 40 per cent of Indian students in Canada reported discrimination.

 

The diplomatic tensions between both countries over the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardip Singh Nijjar in British Columbia’s Surrey have further exacerbated the issue. (IANS)

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