Protest against health care fees for international students in British Columbia

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Dozens of people marched from the Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain station to Health Minister Adrian Dix’s office on Thursday night to protest the fees British Columbia charges international students for health care.

The province implemented the fee in September 2019 as it phased out Medicare premiums for everyone else in the province. Anyone with a study permit must pay $75 per month.

Protest organizers argue the extra cost is unfair to international students, who are already paying high tuition and rent.

“It’s very exclusive and very unfair,” said Rahil Adeli, a recent graduate and former international student from Iran.

“A just society should be fair to everyone, and whether I pay this fee or not, we must stand up for the rights of everyone, our friends, everyone in our society,” she continued. .

Another organizer said it was heartbreaking to see how many people are affected by the fees.

“It angers me to see the government giving in to racist attacks on international students and imposing fees on struggling international students,” said Omar Chu of Sanctuary Health.

“We are meant to live in a universal health care system, and part of universality is making sure everyone who is covered by health care has equal access,” he added.

While Dix’s office was closed, the protest was a symbolic gesture to raise awareness of the issue.

“They think international students are here to pay, they’re here to make money for the province, and that’s not a fair way to treat international students,” said Cameron Anderson, an international student from United States.

“They don’t need to do this. They do it because they can and because a lot of people don’t care,” he added.

CTV News contacted the province for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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