Indian students struggle to make ends meet and support their families

Apr 7, 2020 | Features

A student searching for part-time job opportunity. (Pooja Luthra)

Pooja Luthra

Ramneet Kaur Shergill, 24, arrived in Canada in 2018 and works every day to support her family in India to help pay for her mother’s breast cancer treatment.

“It becomes very difficult for me to balance both my studies and job. You know money is an important factor to sustain livelihood in Canada,” said Shergill, a student of early childhood education at Northern College in Scarborough.

“My main goal was to study,” she said with tears in her eyes, “But when I got to know about my mother’s condition, I decided to choose to work for extra hours to send money for her treatment.”

Shergill is not alone, as many other students have resorted to taking up working long hours on top of school, either to earn money for tuition or to send money back home.

Some students have resorted to working under the table for cash on top of their regular employment

Diwanker Pettrik, a supervisor in JM Die Ltd., explains the risks students often take to earn more money.

“They have to pay their rent, bills, and fulfill other necessities as well. So they try to work on cash as the number of hours are not recorded anywhere,” Pettrik said. “Being employed becomes a necessity.”

Gagan Kaur, a recruiter at Access Personnel Resources Inc in Etobicoke, described the way some students beg in front of her for an extra hour of work.

“They often come with reasons to work more than designated hours. I try to keep it under the limit but sometimes you cannot avoid them,” she said.

While many students try to find balance between work and school, they often make work their priority.

These students are faced with a harsh reality, as their cost of living increases and they face more pressure to support both themselves and their families.

“The ambition always outweighs the reality,” said Prikshit Kumar, a student at Canada College in Montreal.

While Kumar studies in Montreal, he lives in Brampton due to there being more job opportunities.

“I have to travel to Montreal every weekend to attend my classes. I stay in Brampton and work full-time for earning money to pay my fees and send money to my family who have to pay loans,” he said.

“Coming to Canada was not my choice but a compulsion,” Kumar said, “Parents send you here so that you can have a brighter and better future and can support them.”

For Shegrill, the stress of having to provide for her family, along with her brother in Montreal, often becomes too much for her to handle.

“I have to pay his fees as well along with mine. I need to work more to earn more,” Shergill said, “There is not a single day in which I sleep peacefully. There is so much baggage of responsibility on my shoulders.”