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Manitoba seeks to scrap universal healthcare for international students

Since the launch of Universal Health Care in Manitoba in 2012, put through by the previous NDP Government, international post-secondary students have ga...

Catherine Sturman
|Mar 16|magazine8 min read

Since the launch of Universal Health Care in Manitoba in 2012, put through by the previous NDP Government, international post-secondary students have gained access to healthcare coverage, driving new and upcoming talent to the Canadian province, being one of the few to offer this service.

However, this is set to be disrupted. Presently under review by the Progessive Conservative government, the Manitoba government are discussing removing universal healthcare for international students in a bid to save CA$3mn.

At present, any student with a study permit who has resided in Canada for over six months can gain access to a Manitoba Health Card, granting international students and their dependents access to essential healthcare.

Former international student, Dele Ojewole has condemned the move. Whilst he was a student in 2010, he was prevented from visiting a doctor due to escalating healthcare costs.

Whilst he has become a citizen of Canada and is now interim chairperson of the Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students, he explained to CBC News: “Right now we know that international students are already paying triple the tuition, so however the government is trying to charge them for healthcare coverage, it’s something that we think is harsh, it’s something that we think is inhumane and it’s something we hope the government will take a step back on.”

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“International students might be paying around CA$450 to see a doctor, which is something that domestic students would find very, very exorbitant. It’s something that will drive students out of this province,” he added.

NDP Opposition Leader Wab Kinew has also voiced strong views on the Government’s plans to revert back to a private healthcare model, where international students resume responsibility for healthcare costs, and children up to high school age will also suffer from the move.

"This is also going to apply to children. It strikes me as deeply unfair."

However, Minister of Education and Training, Ian Wishart remains keen to push through with the move, and has stated that Manitoba still houses a strong reputation within education and houses some of the lowest tuition fees across Canada.

Nonetheless, last year the Government scrapped its cap on tuition fees, something which will severely impact the entire education sector in the province.