International Students in Manitoba, Canada to Get Free Health Care

November, 2011

From April, 2012 international students studying in Manitoba will be offered free health care under the Manitoba International Student Health Insurance Plan (MISHIP).

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MISHIP, a private health insurance plan provided by the University of Manitoba for all eligibleinternational students who are in the province for a high school or post-secondary education, will save them around $400 annually on private health insurance. That means more than the current 3,200 international students will be granted free Manitoba Health coverage, as will their spouses and dependents, confirmed a spokeswoman for Health Minister Theresa Oswald.

International students in Manitoba are currently required to enroll in a private health insurance plan. The plan's policies are held by Winnipeg-based Great-West Life, with yearly premiums - about $400 for individuals and $1,200 for families - tacked onto tuition fees. Therefore, providing free health care to the province's 3,200 international students and their families will give Manitoba a competitive advantage in recruiting more students and encourage them to stay in the province permanently. While there are many factors that contribute to success in international recruitment, providing a welcoming and supportive environment to students is a primary feature.

Tyler Blashko, vice-president advocate of the University of Winnipeg Students' Association has said, "I actually spoke to some students about it (Monday) and they were very excited. . . It's a basic necessity that everyone living in Manitoba should have."

According to Blashko, Manitoba is following British Columbia, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan in providing free health care to international students. Such a step will facilitate foreign students studying in Manitoba since foreigners are required to pay around two to three times the tuition fee paid by local students, he added. It is an essential requirement for all foreigners studying in Manitoba and students are happy to know about such a facility, affirmed Blashko.

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