'The current circumstances merit exceptional measures in recognition of their service during the pandemic'
The federal government has announced a temporary measure that will give asylum claimants working in the healthcare sector a chance at permanent residency.
“The government recognizes the extraordinary contribution of asylum claimants working in Canada’s healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in long-term care centres,” says Marco Mendicino, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. “As these individuals face an uncertain future in Canada, the current circumstances merit exceptional measures in recognition of their service during the pandemic.”
Front line workers providing direct care to patients in hospitals, long-term care homes, assisted living facilities and providing home care through an organization or agency will be able to apply for permanent residency if they:
- claimed asylum before March 13, 2020
- were issued a work permit after they made a claim for asylum
- have worked in the healthcare sector, in health institutions
- have worked in a designated occupation for no less than 120 hours between March 13, 2020 and Aug. 14, 2020
- demonstrate six months of experience (up until Aug. 31, 2021) in the designated occupation before being granted permanent residence
- have a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) if wishing to reside in Quebec
- meet existing admissibility requirements, including those related to criminality, security and health
Family members of the principal applicant would be included in the application and granted permanent residency, if the application is approved.
The announcement “recognizes the service and dedication of some of the most marginalized and vulnerable members in society,” says Rema Jamous Imseis, representative in Canada for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
In July, Patrick Smith, president and CEO of the Centre of Excellence PTSD and Related Mental Health Concerns at the Royal Hospital in Ottawa, noted that healthcare workers could suffer from ‘moral injuries’.
Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, also applauded Canada’s move in a tweet: “Kudos Canada. More countries should follow your hospitable example and grant permanent residency to asylum-seekers risking their own health and lives to fight #COVID19 for all of us.”
In May, the federal government announced a temporary policy that would allow temporary foreign workers to work in a new job while their work permit application is being fully processed.
Later that month, Manitoba announced that almost 80,000 front-line workers would each receive $1,530 under a $120-million Risk Recognition Recognition Program.