B.C. government offers support to students affected by Canada’s recent travel ban

Post-secondary students will have 24/7 access to mental health support

The KPU International Students’ Office, located in the Cedar Building on Surrey Campus. (file photo)

The provincial government has released a list of mental health support resources available to post-secondary students affected by the India and Pakistan travel restrictions.

The Canadian government announced a 30-day ban on flights from India and Pakistan beginning April 22,  in order to deal with the surge in COVID-19 cases. The ban includes commercial and private flights.

India has been experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and there has been a short supply of oxygen and beds for patients. The country’s death toll has exceeded 250,000, and morgues are finding it hard to keep up.

With the 30-day travel ban, the B.C. government is trying to address the situations faced by students whose plans have been affected. Students will be able to access 24/7 support like Here2Talk, which is a platform that gives them access to mental health support.

KPU International is also offering support to students affected by the travel ban. When travel restrictions first came in place, a guide was created for students in order to help them navigate the restrictions, says Carole St. Laurent, KPU International’s interim associate vice president.

“We have been following up with [students], advising them of this new restriction, wanting them to let us know immediately if they’re going to be affected negatively by this in any way, and providing them with support in whatever way we can in their studies,” says St. Laurent.

When the ban on travel from India and Pakistan was first announced, St. Laurent says letters of support were sent out with accommodation and quarantine information. KPU International also had conversations with students in order to help them prepare for their arrival in Canada.

Since this travel ban prevents direct flights from Pakistan and India, some students can still continue their studies online, and KPU International is prepared to help students however they need.

St. Laurent says students who feel like they won’t be able to complete their coursework will have the chance to speak to a peer mentor about the support available for them.

Students who are studying in their home country have access to Keep Me Safe, which is a mental wellness support system in place for KPU students that provides access to mental health support when they need it.

“We really expanded our services to international students more than ever to make sure that they’re successful, make sure they have the equipment they need, make sure they have internet support that’s required for online courses in their home country,” says St. Laurent.

St. Laurent says a survey was conducted to find out what support students needed for their semester. A team has also been put together to help students during the quarantine period.

Students can visit the KPU International website for more information on the assistance provided to students during the pandemic.