Enrolment rates of domestic students in Nova Scotia are in decline, but international student enrolment is increasing. While international students contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of our campuses, institutions are often investing in international student recruitment as a tool to increase revenue through the collection of massive differential fees. This results in international students paying up to three times the rate of tuition fees as their domestic peers.
While international students are recruited to Nova Scotian institutions with promises of a welcoming and supportive learning environment, many are not told that international students are not granted Medical Services Insurance for their first year in the province, and must rely on expensive health insurance alternatives.
We asked all major parties if they supported offering Medical Services Insurance to international students immediately upon arrival to the province. Here’s what they had to say:
We are happy to see that the NDP has committed to offering Medical Services Insurance to international students immediately upon their arrival in Nova Scotia; it is disappointing, however, to see that the Liberal and PC parties have not made this same commitment.
The Liberals say “Nova Scotia continues to be an attractive option for [international students’] education”. Providing international students with the same healthcare benefits as domestic students would certainly help make this so. The PCs state that this issue is “complex and would require further analysis”, but it’s actually very simple. In Manitoba, international students only need to show proof of enrolment and a study permit to apply for the same health coverage as domestic students. Both the PCs and the Liberals cite the need for more conversation and research on this issue, but a 2009 report commissioned by the Government of Nova Scotia cites that “Medical Services Insurance for eligible international students costs Nova Scotia less than $90 per student per year. It would be an attractive and inexpensive differentiator to offer MSI at no cost to all international students immediately upon their arrival.” The research has been completed, and internationals students have cited the need for change – all we lack is the political will to make this affordable recommendation a reality.
Public health coverage is a fundamental public service that should not be arbitrarily withheld from international students for any length of time. Canada is a country that prides itself on its public healthcare and its welcoming attitude towards the international community; the province of Nova Scotia should be reflecting these values in their policies by providing international students the same healthcare benefits as domestic students.