Asylum Seekers Working in Healthcare During Pandemic May Be Eligible For Permanent Residence
The Canadian government has announced a plan to provide assistance to asylum seekers during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering permanent residence to refugees working in healthcare occupations.
The measure will include asylum seekers from across all of Canada, including Quebec, working in any healthcare-related job. This includes security guards, nurses aides, and long-term care home workers. It will not apply to asylum seekers working in any other sector, even if their occupation was classified as essential during the pandemic.
The measure is not yet in place, as it currently is awaiting approval from the cabinet committee. The project was only just recently presented by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Cabinet Committee last week.
If approved, the program is expected to launch within the next few weeks.
It has not yet been disclosed how many asylum seekers would be eligible for permanent residence, however, it’s believed that potentially thousands will be affected.
The province of Quebec is believed to be where the majority of the asylum seekers who could be eligible for the new measure are located.
According to CIC News, a Quebec-based support organization for migrants estimates that over 1,000 asylum seekers living in Quebec are currently working in the province’s health sector.
Many of these individuals have had their refugee claims rejected or are waiting for a decision from the government but have continued to work throughout the global pandemic.
According to CBC, Quebec and Ottawa have had several meetings to discuss the plan but have not yet reached an agreement.
"We are at work. Discussions are continuing with the federal government, since asylum seekers are currently a federal process," Marc-André Gosselin, a spokesperson for Quebec's Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette told CBC.
Who Is Eligible
Besides being a healthcare worker, asylum seekers must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for permanent residence under the new program:
- Be an asylum seeker. Claims that are pending or have been rejected are also eligible.
- Have requested asylum before the measure is formally announced by the federal government
- Hold a valid work permit
- Have worked at least four weeks or 120 hours between January 25, 2020 and the date the measure is announced.
Although the special measure is not yet set in stone, this is great news for hardworking asylum seekers that have been working on the frontlines of this pandemic and helping keep Canadians safe.