New Permanent Residence Program for Health-Care Workers

by Ronalee Carey Law

December 2020

Applications are now being accepted for the Health-care workers permanent residence pathway.  This temporary program will grant permanent resident status to refugee claimants who worked in front-line health care positions between March and August 2020.  The purpose of the program is to recognize the contributions of refugee claimants working in the health-care sector during the pandemic.  The program was originally announced in August 2020.

This program is available to those who are waiting for their refugee hearing – their claim will be put on hold pending processing of the permanent residence application.  Those whose refugee claim was refused may also apply, with some limitations.

Will the government go further, and announce programs for other essential workers?  We have, by some estimates, over half a million undocumented workers in Canada, in addition to 550,000 documented temporary foreign workers.  These workers build our homes, clean our hotel rooms, cook our meals, care for our children, and work in food production.  Typically considered ‘low-skilled’ and ineligible for permanent residency programs, our need for these workers has become acutely known during the pandemic.  The Migrant Workers Centre has called for an amnesty for undocumented workers, by permitting them to apply for permanent residency and a work permit during processing. 

Though Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has continued to process permanent residence applications during the pandemic, it will not meet its 2020 targets.  Further, those who are approved, but currently reside outside Canada must wait until travel restrictions are lifted before they can move to Canada.  Expanding the program to other essential workers is not only humane but also in Canada’s interests.

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