The Royal Society of Canada’s report Supporting Canada’s Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery Through Robust Immigration Policy and Programs provided an overview of Canada’s immigration system before the pandemic.
“These students are seen as an attractive source of skilled migrants”
He laid out the vulnerabilities of the system as revealed by the pandemic, and indicated what the federal and provincial/territorial governments could do to optimize immigration for Canada.
The report noted that international students play a vital role in Canada’s economy, and provide the country with a much-needed source of employment.
However, students faced numerous challenges including visa processing delays and high levels of stress, anxiety and uncertainty. The report also highlighted that some were not eligible for emergency social and financial assistance.
“A major reason for the government of Canada’s interest in attracting international students is that these students are seen as an attractive source of skilled migrants, with many international students studying at the post-secondary level,” he said. the report.
“International students are relatively young, are proficient in at least one official language, have Canadian educational qualifications and can help address the current and pending needs of this country’s labor market, especially for highly skilled workers.
“The ability to retain international students as permanent residents and skilled workers is seen as especially critical for regions with a declining workforce,” he added.
The report said that by retaining international students, these regions can rely on a new source of highly qualified labor capable of contributing to their growth and prosperity.
As of December 2019, there were more than 642,000 international students in Canada, an increase of 185% since 2010 according to data from CBIE.
The report explained the number made Canada the third ranked study destination in the world to attract international students, a trend The government of Canada had supported it with its commitment to attract more international students.
“High levels of stress, anxiety and uncertainty have resulted”
However, the disruption caused by Covid-19 has meant that international students in Canada and those trying to get to the country to study have faced numerous challenges.
A June 2020 survey conducted by World Education Services found that 26% of international students said they had lost their primary source of income and 34% said they were having trouble affording rent or utilities.
“High levels of stress, anxiety and uncertainty have resulted. Vulnerabilities caused by a lack of federally funded settlement supports for international students have become especially evident.
“For those who have not yet traveled to Canada to begin their studies, border closures and delays in processing permit applications meant that their ability to enter the country to begin their studies is was hindered,” the report said.
The pandemic has also shown how dependent the country’s post-secondary education sector is on tuition provided by international students. About 58% of new study permits for foreign students decreased from June to August 2020, compared to the same period of 2019, according to Statistics Canada.
“Although some universities do not anticipate enrollment declines in the 2020-2021 year, in general, colleges and universities expect large financial losses, possibly in the billions of dollars, due to some enrollment drops, reductions in residence rights, and other income. losses,” said the report.
“Post-secondary institutions have a particularly large impact in smaller communities”
He also noted that a recent study by Statistics Canada projects losses to the university of $377 million to $3.4 billion during the 2020-21 academic year, depending on the size of the reduction in international student enrollments.
“Post-secondary institutions have a particularly large impact in smaller communities and international students contribute significantly to many small urban and rural economies.
“Furthermore, these students represent potential immigrants and are key to filling labor market gaps in smaller communities, as many remain in the community after graduation,” said the report’s authors.
They also noted that an economic impact assessment conducted by the Northern Policy Institute estimated that a 20% decrease in international students at Northern Ontario post-secondary institutions would result in an estimated $23 million in school losses and an estimated loss of $20 million in contributions to their communities.
To address these issues, the research recommended that the federal and provincial/territorial governments should allow international students to renew post-graduate work permits during the post-Covid economic recovery period.
They should also “pilot an expansion of universal health care coverage to include international students” and “provide sufficient funding to colleges and universities, on the one hand, and put caps on tuition costs for students international, on the other hand”.
The report also recommended that the government increase eligibility for some federally funded settlement services to include international students.
“We know that international students are not just here to get something, they are here to give something – and we want them to stay permanently,” said Marco Mendicino, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. The PIE News.
“Their status may be temporary, but their contributions are lasting. Encouraging more international students to stay permanently is a central part of our immigration levels plan 2021-23, and we have already launched several major initiatives to help more students to choose Canada.
“Our message to students is clear: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here,” he added.