A Brampton food bank is receiving some heat from the public for allegedly not allowing international students to use its services. (Courtesy: Ste. Louise Outreach Centre of Peel)
A Brampton food bank is receiving some heat from the public for allegedly not allowing international students to use its services.
Earlier this month, political blogger Darshan Maharaja shared an image of a sign that was placed outside of the food bank at Ste. Louise Outreach Centre of Peel.
The sign says, “No service, international students (government regulations).”
“I found out about this policy when I went there to drop off some candy that was leftover from Hallowen,” Maharaja told The Brandon Gonez Show.
According to the food bank’s website, it has been running for 40 years and serves over 2,600 families.
“They said that the international students were coming in groups and cleaning out everything. This impacted the families that depend on the food bank, so they decided not to serve international students, who are supposed to have enough funds to support themselves for the duration of their studies, as per government regulations,” Maharaja responded, when asked what the food bank told him about their sign.
The Brandon Gonez Show reached out to the Ste. Louise Outreach Centre of Peel for comment on their policy but no response was received.
“To be eligible to study in Canada, you must prove that you have the funding to support yourself. If they’re going to multiple food banks, and they’re hitting up the churches, this is now a matter of abuse,” board president Catherine Rivera said in a statement to CBC News.
According to the Government of Canada’s website, to obtain a study permit, the government of Canada requires students to have enough funds to support themselves beyond tuition. The guidelines pertain to most of Canada, except Quebec. International students require $10,000 a year, $833 a month in living expenses.
“Although sometimes discriminated against, international students are an asset to our community. Many business owners and leaders in our community first started as international students. They bring talent and skills that Brampton needs to keep growing and the kind of citizens our country needs. Students face the same affordability challenges as many of us in today’s economy, with many struggling to find the money to pay for basic needs like housing and food,” Brampton Councillor Rowena Santos told The Brandon Gonez Show.
Santos also said in a recent Region of Peel Council meeting, the use of food banks is hitting historic numbers and emergency shelters are at 300 per cent capacity.
“The needs of our residents include international students. Since 2021, The City of Brampton together with the Region of Peel and post-secondary partners like Sheridan, Algoma University, and Toronto Metropolitan University, and community agencies like Indus, have been working on the issues that impact international students living in our community. By bringing a collaborative group together, we developed an International Students Charter for Brampton, with work ongoing. It is up to all of us to work together to ensure that these students receive the kind of housing, social and health supports they need to succeed here,” Santos said.
The Brandon Gonez Show also reached out to Brampton Councillor Gurpartap Singh Toor asking for his thoughts and reaction to the sign posted at the food bank and he responded, “As Canadians we firmly believe that anyone’s status shouldn’t be a prerequisite for seeking/offering help when they are in need. It is simply wrong.”
We contacted other food banks in Brampton and none of them said international students were not allowed to use their services.
“I would urge the food bank to reconsider its policy, and urge the community to support this particular food bank as well,” Singh Toor said.
“As far as I know, this food bank was the exception. We have never had the same concern at any other food bank,” he added