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e-2655 (Citizenship and immigration)

Initiated by Joyce de Paula from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

  • The Canadian economy has greatly benefited from the success of its education export industry, which contributes an estimated $21.6 billion annually to Canada’s GDP and has created 170,000 jobs for Canadians;
  • Incorporating international students’ skills into the Canadian labour force is of critical importance to the Canadian economy;
  • Canada’s post graduate work permit program (PGWP) has been a tremendous draw for prospective international students, because it allows international graduates to prove their viability in the Canadian labour market and potentially start their permanent residency applications;
  • The post graduate work permit is issued for a very limited duration, and can only be issued once, resulting in international graduates being under strict time pressure to accumulate skilled work experience;
  • The government of Canada’s COVID-19 response to date has not considered the negative impact on international students’ long-term planning and investment, nor the negative impact on the Canadian economy, should graduates not be given the opportunity to prove their value during their PGWP period due to COVID-19 related work shortages and layoffs; and
  • When Canada needed international students to fill front line shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were there for Canada, now we are asking Canada to be there for us.
We, the undersigned, international students and stakeholders in Canada, call upon the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to offer reasonable accommodation through an extension of the post graduate work permit time limit to international graduates who work experience accumulation was negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Response by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Marco Mendicino

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recognizes the tremendous economic, cultural, and social benefits that international students bring to the country.

IRCC understands that due to the pandemic, some Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders and other temporary foreign workers in Canada have lost their employment or have seen their hours reduced and may be in jeopardy of not earning the one year of skilled work experience required to qualify for permanent residency programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class. Although PGWPs are a one-time opportunity, PGWP holders have other options available to them to remain in Canada to work.

PGWP holders with permits that remain valid but are coming to an end have the option to apply for another one of Canada’s work permit programs under either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program (IMP) program. Both programs offer a range of options for employers seeking to hire workers in specific sectors or with specialized skills. Furthermore, time spent working under these Programs may count towards Canadian work experience requirements for permanent residency. If a PGWP holder applies for such a work permit before the expiry of their PGWP, they may continue working while waiting for a decision on their work permit application.

In addition, former PGWP holders whose work permits have expired or have converted to visitor status can benefit from the temporary public policies IRCC has implemented as part of the its COVID-19 response. These public policies include:

Former PGWP holders who apply to the above public policies may also be able to work while awaiting a decision on their work permit application. These temporary changes were made to benefit employers in Canada who continue to face difficulties finding the workers they need, as well as foreign nationals, such as PGWP holders or former PGWP holders, who would like to contribute their labour and skills to Canada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

IRCC will continue to monitor the impacts of the pandemic on international students and Post-Graduation Work Permit holders.

Open for signature
June 10, 2020, at 2:23 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
July 10, 2020, at 2:23 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
October 30, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00186)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia