Free Quarantine Packages - #WhyNotWaterloo?

What difference does a union really make? Spoiler alert: a big one.

Infographic. Title: "University of Waterloo's exploitation of international students is unacceptable." Text: "Aside from paying nearly twice as much for their education relative to domestic students, international students are being charged $1,000 for a Quarantine Package that is being provided free of cost at other institutions. If U of T and McMaster can do it, #WhyNotWaterloo?" Image: OUW goose logo, chart showing UW (yellow bar, non-unionized) charges $1000 and the other two unionized schools (shown by red bar) offer the quarantine package for free.

This is the second blog post in our series #WhyNotWaterloo?

Quarantine - a university responsibility

The Government of Canada has made post-secondary institutions responsible for providing an option for new international students to quarantine for 14-days, otherwise they may not enter the country.[1] The University of Waterloo recently received government approval for their quarantine plan, which means these students are allowed to come to Canada to study at UW.

Waterloo has shown exceptional disregard for international students coming to study in Canada and needing to quarantine. While university leaders like McMaster[2] and the University of Toronto[1,3] are providing 14 day quarantine packages to arriving international students free of charge, meals included, the University of Waterloo has decided to charge already struggling students $1,000+HST CAD for a 14-day stay and 3 meals a day.[4] For a PhD student couple with one child, this cost increases to $2,285+HST, all on short notice.

Fair access to work

New international graduate student workers need to come to Canada to obtain SIN cards to be able to work as TAs, RAs, and Sessionals, so the 14 day isolation and quarantine is necessary for their income, as well as their ability to engage in studies. Not offering a complementary quarantine package means that international students do not have the same access to work as domestic students, which is unfair.

If other universities can offer complementary packages to help international students, why not Waterloo?

This is just one of the ways that Waterloo shows its lack of care for student well-being and financial struggles during COVID-19 and in general. This is especially true for international students, who have already suffered tuition increases by UW during the pandemic, and who are an important part of the UW community.

University of Waterloo's exploitation of international students is unacceptable.

If you want to read more on the perspectives of international students and unionization you can check out the posts of our international student sub-committee on Having a voice in the university, Visas and unionizing, Importance of a standardized work environment, and Gaining protections against tuition increases.

Join us today

Together we can make UW a better place to work for academic workers. 

In the face of austerity and continued economic instability, there has never been a more important time for worker protections. But we need your help to make it happen: it only takes a few minutes to sign a card, talk to a friend about the union drive, or share this article with classmates on social media, in a group chat, or by email - every bit counts! Contact us to learn more or get involved.

Stay tuned for more posts to come on what UW is missing out on - from extra health benefits and sick pay, to parental leave and support funds for unfunded (course-based) students, and everything in between.

#WhyNotWaterloo? #UnionsMakeADifference #OrganizeUW #UnionizeUW2020 #JoinCUPE #UniversitiesWorkBecauseWeDo


  1. “International students to be allowed into Canada as long as they have a 14 day quarantine plan” - The Globe and Mail
  2. McMaster University Quarantine Plan cost: FREE, meals included -
  3. University of Toronto quarantine plan cost: FREE, meals included -
  4. New UW quarantine plan cost: $1,000 + HST CAD -
Committee to Organize uWaterloo
Committee to Organize uWaterloo
supported by CUPE

The Committee to Organize uWaterloo is a grassroots campaign to unionize the academic workers at the University of Waterloo. The campaign is supported by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada's largest union.