International student protest blocks traffic at busy Brampton intersection

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Published June 24, 2024 at 1:44 pm

International student protest blocks traffic at busy Brampton intersection
Protestors took to the street in Brampton on July 22, 2024. (Photo: Guru Nanak Jahaz on X)

Dozens of protestors braved the rain to block traffic near a busy Brampton shopping centre demanding extended work permits for some 70,000 international students facing deportation.

The protest happened on Saturday near Shoppers World in Brampton with activists and members of the Naujawan Support Network marching from Kaneff Park, calling for extensions to all post-graduation work permits (PGWP) set to expire over the next year.

With a motto of “good enough to work, good enough to stay,” the protestors want the federal government to extend the work permits of some 70,000 students that are set to expire, saying international students are being used as a source of cheap labour in Canada.

“We were good enough to work, especially at the height of COVID; we are good enough to stay,” reads a social media post from the Naujawan Support Network promoting the call to action.

Photos and video of the protest posted online show dozens of people marching and holding signs near the intersection of Steeles Avenue and Hurontario Street before walking into the roadway during a red light. The crowd appears to block traffic briefly while Peel Regional Police officers were on the scene.

A police spokesperson said they are aware of the protest but was unable to comment on whether any charges were laid or are pending.

Similar protests also promoted by the Naujawan Support Network earlier this month also called for a five-year permit for all international students in Canada and changes to pathways to permanent residency, also known as “draws.”

The work permits are usually up to three years allowing international students to temporarily stay and work in Canada after graduation. Getting a PGWP doesn’t guarantee a student’s path to becoming a permanent resident, but the program offers learners from other countries work experience that may help them stand out if they seek to emigrate permanently.

Some students have said a backlog in permanent resident requests has PGWP holders being shut out of a potential pathway to residency and could be sent home.

Earlier protests in Prince Edward Island and B.C. have made similar calls to action as federal and provincial governments have made significant changes to international students programs over the last year.

More than 70 “diploma mill” schools were blocked from international student recruiting in Brampton under the new provincial guidelines, according to Mayor Patrick Brown.

Ottawa has also put a cap on the number of international students coming to study from abroad, doubled the cost-of-living requirement for Canadian study permit applicants to $20,635, and lengthened the time graduating international students could work in Canada without an employment visa.

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