Canada removes barriers for international students working in essential services

Apr 23 2020, 6:22 am

The Government of Canada is removing barriers for international students working in essential services to fight COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $9 billion plan to help Canadian students.

On the same day, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada said a temporary rule change for international students aims at helping health-care facilities, other workplaces under pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting immediately, the government will remove the restriction that allows international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.

“Immigrants, temporary foreign workers and international students are making important contributions as frontline workers in health care and other essential service sectors,” said Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. “We know and value their efforts and sacrifices to keep Canadians healthy and ensure the delivery of critical goods and services.”

The federal government said that during the coronavirus outbreak, workers in certain roles and industries have been under considerable pressure, and the government “recognizes that international students who are already present in Canada will help meet the challenges of the pandemic.”

They said that thousands of international students are studying in health- and emergency service-related programs, including many who are nearly fully trained and ready to graduate.

“This temporary rule change provides health-care facilities with access to additional well-trained workers at a time when they are badly needed,” said the Government of Canada.

This temporary rule change will be in place until August 31, 2020.

Statistics Canada reports that in 2017-2018, more than 11,000 international students were enrolled in health-care programs at Canada’s universities and colleges, representing about 4% of health-care students at that time.