International students covered under provincial health care

The provincial government will cover healthcare costs for all international students studying at New Brunswick universities.

Premier Brian Gallant announced this and a new Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program allowing families making more than $60,000 to receive tuition coverage at St. Thomas University on Feb. 23.

Esteban Rivera, president of the St. Thomas University International Student Association, said this will save international students almost $900 in health insurance costs.

“It’s a really nice change for [New Brunswick],” he said. “There’s a lot of competition trying to get international students and this is a step in the right direction.”

International students pay for Campus Trust, a health insurance plan provided to all students, as well as Guard Me, an emergency health insurance plan all international students are required to get. On its own, Guard Me costs $630.

“We want to be able to compete with other provinces around Canada in attracting international students. Universities across the country are facing and, or will be facing enrollment challenges,” Gallant said.

He said it’s estimated to cost around $200,000.

This year STU has 126 international students, including 18 exchange students.

Rivera said this change makes him feel like the government accepts him.

“My major goal right now is to try and become a Canadian citizen. I feel like it’s my second home now, so I really want to be able to stay here and I feel like the government is making it easier for us to assimilate in society,” he said.

“It makes it seem that the government is here for you … like they actually care about you.”

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