Sri Lankan students in Canada struggle with homeland cash crisis - New Canadian Media
sri lankan international students sri lanka crisis
Sri Lankans in Canada and around the world are calling for the ouster of the South Asian island nation’s government, which has plunged the country into an unprecedented economic crisis. Photo credit: UN
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Sri Lankan students in Canada struggle with homeland cash crisis

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has left its international students in Canada struggling to pay for tuition fees, rent and necessities, forcing some to abandon their studies.

Sri Lankan international student Dehan Kumburugala came to Canada three years ago to fulfill his ambition of becoming a doctor.

Now the third-year Biology student at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan is packing his bags to return to his homeland because he is unable to pay his tuition fees due to the worsening economic crisis in Sri Lanka.

“With the critical state that Sri Lanka is in, it’s way too tough on paying the tuition fees…With no source in Canada willing to help, completing my degree is not a possibility,” Kumburugala told New Canadian Media.

Supun Weerasinghe, a fourth-year Business studies undergraduate at the University of New Brunswick said his parents can’t send money to cover his tuition fees because the Sri Lankan rupee has collapsed to historic lows.

“I don’t know what to do except try my best to cut down my expenses even further,” he said.

The pair are among an estimated 10,000 Sri Lankan international students in Canada who are in desperate need of help to pay rent, tuition fees and buy food, said Kaushalya Rathnayake, who is mobilizing the diaspora to support the students.

Money transfers

“The central bank of Sri Lanka is severely limiting money transfers to students overseas. Therefore, parents can no longer support students financially or send adequate money to pay for their studies and living expenses,” said Rathnayake, a Ph.D. student at the University of New Brunswick

“Many Sri Lankan students are leaving Canada as they do not have a way to make ends meet,” he told NCM.

Others, he said, have cancelled their plans for studies in Canada, because of the crisis.

Canada is home to approximately 200,000 individuals of Sri Lankan descent and is a top source country for international students. According to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data, 2,750 Sri Lankan students were granted study permits in 2021, representing a whopping 65.7 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

“The economic situation is deteriorating in Sri Lanka. The crisis is leading to shortages of necessities including medicines, fuel, and food. There are long line-ups at grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies. Local authorities are rationing electricity, resulting in power outages,” said the Government of Canada in its latest travel advisory on the country.

Coupled with rising inflation, shortages of fuel and essential goods, and prolonged power cuts, Sri Lanka is in a dire situation over access to food and health, said the United Nations, adding that this has prompted thousands of Sri Lankans to take to the streets in protest – calling for political and economic reforms. In response, a defiant President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a nationwide public state of emergency earlier this month, which has since been revoked, empowering him to override most laws while authorities blocked access to several social media platforms.

Holding Sri Lanka president accountable

Yesterday, Sri Lanka suspended its repayment of foreign debt, pending the completion of a loan restructuring program with the International Monetary Fund.

“Every day more and more people are coming out to protest in Sri Lanka and in countries around the world, including in Canada where we have seen rallies in Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary,” said Rathnayake.

“The president and his family are responsible for this crisis, and they need to go…in the meantime the people of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan students here need help,” he said.

“We ask all education institutes to support Sri Lankan students studying in their institutions and extend their financial and mental health support resources to them.”

Among those lending a helping hand is Nishadi Liyanage, a Vancouver-based specialist in sustainability reporting, who has started a GoFundMe page to support 600 Sri Lankan families.

“Being away from family, I was looking for ways to help. So instead of feeling helpless, I connected the Global Shapers Colombo hub with the Global Shapers Vancouver hub to raise funds to provide dry rations and care packages to 600 families in dire need, ahead of the Sinhala and Tamil new year,” she said.

The Global Shapers Community, supported by the World Economic Forum is a network of 14,000 young people in 150 countries driving dialogue, action and change.

“While the general population in Sri Lanka engages in protest, demanding systemic change and an end to nepotism and corruption, we hope to provide immediate relief for those in dire need of meals,” said Liyanage, whose donation drive has raised about $15,000 so far.

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Business Development Advisor - A multiple-award winning journalist, Fabian Dawson is an internationally acclaimed author, filmmaker and media expert. His work over the last four decades spans the globe and he also serves as a consultant/strategic advisor to a variety of international companies. As deputy editor-in-chief of The Province, part of the Postmedia chain, Dawson led initiatives within a special publications group to provide directed content for a variety of organisations. He was named the 2019 recipient of the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award at Jack Webster Awards. Dawson has been invited by the governments of India, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and the United States to act as a media observer/advisor on a variety of Asian-Canada issues. Dawson, now operates FD Media, which specializes in harnessing editorial assets to revenue generating opportunities.

1 Comment

  1. Sri Lanka has 4 million Tamils,whose loyalty is to India,and who want to,and always wanted,to secede.

    There was a 3 decades war,which drained the Sri Lanka economy – had Lanka set up the right manufacturing sector,in those decades – the nation would have been a superpower today.It is the land of Ravana,who flew Sita,the empress of Indiamin an AEROPLANE,and Rama took 12 years to make a bridge,to reach Lanka (with the bridge made by apes)

    It was the RAW which funded and trained the LTTE,and has caused the ruin of Lanka.RAW also interfered in the Lanka elections and Presidential selection,on many times.It had INT,on the “almost successful assassination”
    of Gen Fonseca (but did not tip off the Lankan INT)

    HAD THE WAR NOT TAKEN PLACE – LANKA WOULD HAVE SAVED BILLION IN USD IN WAR MONEY AND ALSO EARNED BILLIONS IN USD IN INDUSTRIAL GROWTH

    Companies go bust NOT due to the secured loans of 5-10 years – which are secured by English & Equitable Mortgages – but by the UNSECURED LOANS which are of short tenors & Floating ROI

    Lanka is in the same hole

    It was sunk by the ISB – Euro Bonds – which were taken after the 2009 war was over.It was rolled over & the party went on – just like LC roll overs.Then the downgrades of Lanka happened,& ROLLOVERS STOPPED – & the, COVID,& the CHEMICAL FERTILISER BAN

    Lanka Debt to GDP is 120 %
    Lanka Foreign debt to GDP is 50%
    Lanka Tax to GDP is 8% =
    Lanka has 1 Billion in FX & 13 Billion of ISB & 8 Billion of ISB in 12 months as due for payment
    Lanka exports are doomed
    Lanka has food shortages
    Lanka depleted Billions of USD to defend the SLR – which led to loss of remittances

    The Disasters of Gotabaya

    Banning Chemical fertilisers – which led to dramatic declines in rubber and plantation yields,and rice and other food crops – which in turn,led to food shortages,crash in exports and expensive food imports and loss of FX – He says that it was done to SAVE FX ! (Who gave him that advice)
    Slashing VAT by half and lowering Taxes on incomes
    Making up loss of tax revenues by ISB of short tenor and high ROI
    Using FX reserves to pay off ISB
    Sugar and Coconut Oil Import duty scam to benefit his pets
    USING PRECIOUS FX TO DEFEND THE SRI LANKAN RUPEE – WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO COLLAPSE A LONG TIME AGO

    BUT THE REAL DISASTER WAS THE FERTILISER BAN WHICH CAUSED FOOD IMPORTS AND REDUCTION IN PLANTATION EXPORTS – IN A COVID TENOR – WHEN TOURISM WAS DOWN

    AND THIS COULD NOT HAVE BEEN HIS IDEA !

    The empty stadiums,empty roads,empty airports,empty towers – yield no income – but are financed by 20 year loans at 10 to 320 BP ROI.Even the 500 Million USD loan of ISB repaid by Lanka,WAS BOUGHT IN OFF MARKET TRADES,AT 50% OFF THE PAR VALUE (BEFORE THE REDEMPTION).

    PRC CANNOT WAIVE THE LOANS OR SWAP INTO EQUITY AS ALL OTHER NATIONS WILL ALSO DEMAND THE SAME WAIVERS

    LANKAN CRISIS IS A HYBRID ASSYMETRIC WAR AGAINST PRC – SILK ROUTE & BRI – TO DESTROY THE PRC INVESTMENTS – & FORCE CHINA TO DO DEBT WAIVERS OR EQUITY SWAPS. (SAME FOR ATTACKS ON CHINESE IN PAKISTAN).dindoohindoo

    If there is NO TURNAROUND OPTION on the table – then NO ONE WILL LEND ANY MONEY – ONLY OPTION IS GRANTS – WHICH ALSO,DID NOT COME – FROM THE INDIANS !

    Had Lankans stuck with the Chinese – this fiasco would NOT HAVE HAPPENED – AS PRC WOULD HAVE ENSURED THE LANKAN SUCCESS – AS IT WOULD HIT THE SILK ROAD INITIATIVE & THE PRC INVESTMENTS,IN AFRICA.PRC is a MAHAYANA state & Lanka is a Theravada state – the common link is Buddhism.India destroyed & exterminated Buddhists 1500 years ago.

    THE INDIANS CONNED THE LANKANS,TO PART WAYS WITH PRC – & THE RESULT IS WHAT YOU SEE TODAY.HAD THE PLN DOCKED ITS NUKE SUBS & SHIPS AT LANKA – THEY WOULD HAVE ENSURED THE SUCCESS OF LANKA

    Lankans need to read history ! Some gems from the Mahabharata

    “Yama & all the Demons”, are in South India & Lanka – as per the Mahabharata, Book 13: Anusasana Parva: Section XCVII

    He should make sacrificial offerings in due order; to Yama in the Southern region

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