Canada has welcomed over 500,000 international students who currently study at educational institutions across the country. India is the source of approximately 25% of all international students in Canada and students from Punjab make up the majority of that number.
International students contribute heavily to the Canadian economy. In 2016 international students contributed $12.8 billion to the Canadian GDP and the annual spending by international students translated to the support of 168,860 jobs.
The WSO was sought out by colleges and international student bodies to assist in addressing the growing issues faced by international students and local communities and as a result, the WSO has held consultations and orientations sessions across Canada. The WSO orientation sessions include information on rights and responsibilities at workplaces, school and in Canadian society. Students are also provided information and advice on immigration issues they may face as well as general advice on adjusting to life in Canada. WSO provides support on health and social issues, including specialized supports through the Sikh Family Helpline, which is a resource that is now recognized and promoted by colleges on several campuses in Ontario.
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said, “international students make an important contribution to Canada and we in the Sikh community have seen a large number of Sikh students come to study from Punjab. It is clear from our engagement with students, stakeholders, and others that international students have not been adequately supported with affordable housing, employment and social supports. These students are often leaving home for the first time and that is even more challenging for them as they move to a completely new country. Our orientation sessions are helping to equip newly arrived students for their transition to student life in Canada and ensuring that they know where to turn to for help. The orientation sessions have received a very strong response from students in cities across Canada.”
The WSO calls on elected officials at all levels of government to work with one another, colleges and police in ensuring the concerns of both international students and the general community are met including affordable and safe housing, social services, employment support, and investigation of “diploma mills”. The WSO will continue to work directly with students and community members to ensure that these issues are dealt with in an appropriate and constructive manner.