With limited income, housing becomes the first priority. To accomodate other financial needs, there are two options to lower housing costs for students: living with roomates, or moving further away from the office. I've chosen the second option, which comes at a cost: longer commute time (+45 mins) and greater social isolation. These costs can be personally and professionally challenging, especially for international students who lack a local social network. Groceries and social activities must be carefully planned in advance as one is highly likely to be working paycheck to paycheck (after accounting for rent). It is common in my field for graduate students to take on additional teaching assistantships (TAships) in order to increase their income. However, TAships take away time for research and other professional development opportunities, thereby creating a gap in career and professional outcomes between those who can afford or not to work without a TAship.
If graduate funding was CAD $35,000/yr for all students, how would that change your life? Such funding would at the very least ease financial stress. One could no longer live paycheck to paycheck, or one could improve their living conditions in order to improve their professional and research outcomes.
I could save money monthly, potentially move to a better location, be alleviated of the psychological stress of financial insecurity, and eat better. Moreover, this would likely influence my decision when selecting a university to conduct research, as I can better adjust to the local cost of living.
Most importantly, I would feel valued by a country and community that values my research to advancing our knowledge and impact on society.