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‘Pressing needs’: Why international students at Mohawk College will be able to work more hours

Beginning Nov. 15, international students who are authorized to work off-campus will be allowed to work an unlimited number of hours.

Previously, international students weren’t permitted to work more than 20 hours per week off-campus except during holidays.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced the change last month.

IRCC says the change is only a temporary measure to fill gaps in Canada’s labour market. International students will have until the end of next year to take advantage of the increase in working hours.

“With the economy growing at a faster rate than employers can hire new workers, Canada needs to look at every option so that we have the skills and workforce needed to fuel our growth,” Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said in an announcement.

“By allowing international students to work more while they study, we can help ease pressing needs in many sectors across the country while providing more opportunities for international students to gain valuable Canadian work experience and continue contributing to our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity,” he added.

While the change is meant to address labour shortages, it also presents a financial opportunity for international students who have been struggling to keep up with rising living costs and inflation.

For small business owner Shelby Horsman, the new rules seem like a win-win.

“Right now, I know a lot of students need to work full-time during school just to pay rent and put food in the fridge,” she said. “I can’t imagine the situation is much different for international students, and the restrictions on their work hours hardly seem fair.”

“International students live and study here, they pay more for school,” she added. “I don’t see any reason why we should legislate them to living in poverty just because they’re from another country. Obviously allowing them to work more is a benefit to business owners, but if more hours can help them in the process, I think it’s great.”

Others are skeptical about the change and what it means for students’ work-life balance.

Julian Orlando, an international student from Colombia, has already been working full-time hours between an on-campus job and another job off-campus. He says the change won’t affect him personally, but he knows from experience that working full-time during school is an unsustainable solution for a much larger problem – rising costs of living.

“We all need money,” he said. “Inflation rates are going up and it’s crazy. Rent is getting more expensive, so people need more hours at work to cover those costs. You’re not necessarily earning more money, you’re just working more. And you’re putting school aside in order to survive. On one hand [the change] is good because you’ll have more money, but on the other hand it’s sad because more hours at work means less hours focusing on school.”

For more information and the latest updates, visit the IRCC website or contact Mohawk International Student Services.

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