- Manini Sethi
International Students Coming to CBU May Have to Pay $2500+ For Quarantine.
On the 30th of January, 2021, The Government of Canada announced that they are tightening travel restrictions by introducing mandatory institutionalized quarantine for almost all travelers arriving in Canada. Travelers can now only arrive at select airports and will be required to take a covid-19 test upon their arrival. Travelers who took a covid test before boarding the flight to Canada will not be exempt from this. They will then have to stay in an approved hotel at their own expense till they receive their test results which may take up to 3 days. If they test negative they are free to leave and complete the remaining portion of their 14-day quarantine at the location of their choice, provided it meets the criteria set by the Government of Canada.
While it was stated that there would be some exemptions from this rule, it was unclear in the beginning whether or not international students would be required to follow these new guidelines. Most universities in Nova Scotia, including CBU and Dalhousie University, do already require incoming students to complete a 14-day institutionalized quarantine in one of their approved locations, which for CBU are CBU Residence and Cambridge Suites Hotel in Sydney. While there was no official confirmation whether international students would be exempt from this rule, some sources claimed that they would be.
However, the Government of Canada recently announced that effective February 22, all international students would also be required to get a covid-19 test upon their arrival and would be required to book a 3-night stay at a government authorized hotel at their port of entry at their own expense. If the test results come back negative, they can go to their final destination. If they test positive, they would be required to stay in a designated quarantine facility for 11 more days in order to complete their 14-day quarantine.
It is important to note that the 3/14 day quarantine (depending on covid-19 test result) does not exempt CBU students from the mandatory 14-day quarantine required for all travelers entering Nova Scotia.
Upon entering Nova Scotia, students will be required to complete an additional 14-day quarantine in a CBU designated location (CBU Residence/Cambridge Suites Hotel in Sydney).
On the 28th of January, CBU announced that they would give a 50% subsidy on mandatory quarantine accommodation in Nova Scotia for international students arriving in Canada until 31st March from outside Canada. (Students who were currently in Nova Scotia and chose to travel abroad and return would not be granted the subsidy).
The cost of quarantine in a CBU designated location before the wage subsidy is $1050 and $1432 for CBU Residence and Cambridge Suites respectively. After the 50% subsidy, these costs would be $525 and $716.
CBU specified that the cost associated with the 3/14 day quarantine at the port of arrival would be the responsibility of the students themselves. Justin Trudeau, The Prime Mister of Canada, has estimated the potential cost of the three-day quarantine hotel stay at $2,000.
This means that international students traveling to CBU could be spending upwards of $2525 in quarantine costs alone in order to come to Canada. This figure excludes other costs associated with their travel such as flight tickets and relocation costs.
The closure of the Sydney airport further complicates the situation, as students would have to book their ticket to Halifax, after which they would be required to travel to CBU via the shuttle service provided by CBU. While this shuttle service is free of charge for international students arriving in Canada, the shuttle only runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 1PM, AST.
If a student is unable to board this shuttle after their arrival, they would be required to wait for the next shuttle at Quality Inn Hotel at Halifax, which charges $89 per night, which excludes meals other than breakfast.
CBU is currently assisting students with their travel by providing travel support letters to CBU students who plan on coming to Canada from other countries. This letter however does not guarantee entry in Canada as the final decision rests with the Border Officer who will assess each case individually. The travel letter also states that "Cape Breton University is not responsible for any financial or other losses due to you being refused entry to Canada"
Two international students (names not mentioned for maintaining confidentiality) reported that it took over 3 weeks for them to hear back from CBU about reserving a spot at CBU Residence for the mandatory quarintine in Nova Scotia. CBU recently announced that they would be having some in person/on campus classes. Students who have courses on campus would be required to come to campus for these classes. This means that it is likely that it would be mandatory for international students in these programs to spend over $2500 for travelling to Canada if they are currently in another country.
Caper Times interviewed Amrinder Singh, President and CEO of Cape Breton University Students' Union regarding these stringent and expensive quarintine measures being imposed on students travelling from foreign countries.
Amrinder told Caper Times that CBU and CBUSU are working closely with each other and with the provincial government to ease the financial burden on international students coming to CBU this year.
"Canadian government research estimates that international students contribute over $22 billion annually to the country’s economy and help to sustain over 170,000 jobs. International students will play a critical role in the post pandemic economy, especially in Cape Breton, by providing a much needed boost by injecting capital. Nova Scotia has one of the highest per capita population of international students and we at CBU are aware of our responsibility towards assisting international students.
So far we have provided financial aid for students through two programs. The first one is the 50% subsidy on the self-isolation cost for the students who came in the last few months and the students that will be coming until 31st March which will cost around $235,000. The second funding is for the students in financial need that will be applied to the in-course bursary program. The criteria are the same as every year that is students who have shown financial need in their applications. For this CBUSU donated $40,000 which was matched by CBU plus additional $100,000 dollars bringing the total to $180,000. We are looking into more options to help more students and will be having discussions to open the applications for this bursary again which closed on January 15th which is its closing date every year. We want to make sure more students in need can benefit from this."
(If you are an international student who recently arrived at CBU or if you had to alter your travel plans due to the new restrictions, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will publish your story to help CBUSU advocate for financial aid for students coming to Canada for higher education)