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International students concerned over potential reduction in work hours

International students in Canada are concerned going into the new year about how many hours they will be able to work.

A pilot project that allowed international students to work more than 20 hours per week is being extended.

The one-year program was implemented last year to meet the demands of the Canadian economy, according to the federal government.

Last week, it said the pilot, set to conclude by Dec. 31, will now remain in effect until April.

However, there are still worries among international students about a potential return to the 20-hour per week work restriction. They say it might put them in a difficult situation economically.

Amey Thorat, a second-year student in human resources, marketing, and entrepreneurship at Trent Durham, chose Canada for his education, expecting to balance work and studies.

Even though the policy extension offers relief, Thorat continues to be cautious about the potentially difficult circumstances that lie ahead, given the current state of the economy.

“We are currently facing many issues because of the rising inflation, the housing crisis and everything, and even the groceries are getting expensive,” he said.

The extension of the pilot program poses a continued concern for students who have relied on increased work hours over the past year.

Krutika Patil, a second-year Trent Durham student in human resources, marketing, and entrepreneurship, expressed similar worries as Thorat. She said it’s important to have the choice to work longer hours.

“I haven’t come across anyone who is against this rule because there is always a choice of not working more,” she said. “But you don’t have a choice of working more if we are not allowed.”

Anh Dao, a second-year practical nursing student at Durham College, said more than the 20-hour work limit is needed for sustaining herself as an international student in Canada.

“I don’t think it’s livable when you only get to be working 20 hours a week, the 40-hour-a-week break that we had, that opportunity helped us save,” she said.

Mike Virdo, store manager at Dollar Tree in south Whitby, said he’s disappointed over the potential restrictions. He said international students have a strong work ethic.

“They’re all eager to work like everybody is. You know, they’re polite. They’re, you know, a lot of the time overqualified for our positions,” he said.

Virdo said he’s concerned about his ability to provide sufficient work hours to deserving students.

The federal government said it is exploring the idea of expanding the limit to 30 hours per week. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations is calling for a permanent end to the 20-hour limit.

The minimum wage for employees in Ontario is $16.55 per hour, which means under the 20-hour limit, international students can earn $331 dollars per week.

According to the reports by Edu Canada, tuition fees for international students in Canada range from $21,100 to $36,100 per year for undergraduate students.