Why some overseas Canadians are choosing not to return home amid COVID-19 pandemic
Published Saturday, March 28, 2020 11:01PM EDT Last Updated Sunday, March 29, 2020 7:47AM EDT
MONTREAL -- While the federal government has urged all Canadians abroad to return home during the COVID-19 pandemic, some are refusing, saying they feel safer where they are.
Marc Dikranian, a student at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business, was on an exchange program in Singapore when the crisis began. When Foreign Affairs Canada told him to return home, he refused.
“I feel very safe. The government has been taking this seriously for the past two months,” he said.
Singapore has had a virus response team in place since the 2003 SARS outbreak. Physical distancing rules are strictly enforced, but only confirmed cases are forced to quarantine.
“In Singapore, I can still go to a restaurant, I can still go to a bar,” said Dikranian. “Everything is business as usual on the island.”
Dikranian's mother, Norma Alepian, said while she has her concerns, she accepts her son's choice to remain abroad.
“At first I was very apprehensive of letting him stay there,” she said. “Obviously the emotional side kicks in, you want to keep your child safe. You want your child to be next to you. But he's going to be 21-years-old soon.”
The Canadian government estimates 3 million Canadians live overseas. But unlike for Dikranian, staying isn't always a choice for some. One group of Boy Scouts has been stuck in Honduras for weeks. The troupe was originally supposed to return home on March 21 after leaving Canada on March 7.
But Dikranian said travelling home is a risk he isn't willing to take.
“Why should I take the risk to travel at this point when I could just stay here and enjoy my time in Singapore?” he said.