Jun 19, 2024

Canada recognizes the contributions of newcomers to the country. Photo by Government of Canada.

On April 14, IRCC Minister Marco Mendicino announced a new pathway to permanent residence for over 90,000 essential workers and international graduates in recognition of their contribution to Canada’s fight to control the spread of covid-19 and efforts to accelerate Canada’s economic recovery.

The immigration minister was quoted as saying: "The pandemic has shined a bright light on the incredible contributions of newcomers. These new policies will help those with a temporary status to plan their future in Canada, play a key role in our economic recovery and help us build back better. Our message to them is simple: your status may be temporary, but your contributions are lasting—and we want you to stay."

The focus of this new pathway will be on temporary workers employed in hospitals and long-term care homes and on the frontlines of other essential sectors, as well as international graduates who are driving the economy of the future.

 In its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, immigration will remain critical to Canada’s economic recovery by addressing labour shortages and adding growth to the required workforce

Special public policies, still to be detailed, will grant permanent status to temporary workers and international graduates who are already in Canada and who possess the skills and experience needed to fight the pandemic and accelerate economic recovery.


Effective May 6, 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will begin accepting applications under the following 3 streams:

  • 20,000 applications for temporary workers in health care
  • 30,000 applications for temporary workers in other selected essential occupations
  • 40,000 applications for international students who graduated from a Canadian institution


To be eligible, workers must have at least 1 year of Canadian work experience in a health-care profession or another pre-approved essential occupation, list of occupations still to be released. International graduates must have completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program within the last 4 years, and no earlier than January 2017.

The streams will remain open until November 5, 2021, or until they have reached their limit. Up to 90,000 new permanent residents will be admitted under these 3 streams.   This new accelerated pathway to permanent residency is to encourage essential temporary workers and international graduates to put down roots in Canada to help Canada retain the talented workers it needs, particularly in its health-care system. 

This announcement will help Canada achieve its 2021 Immigration Levels Plan, which will see Canada welcome 401,000 new permanent residents this year. The skilled newcomers and international graduates welcomed under this plan will help create jobs and drive long-term growth in Canada.

Immigration is essential to long-term economic growth. In 1971, there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior. Today, there are 3—and by 2035 there will be only 2. Without newcomers, future generations will end up paying more to sustain the public services they are used to rely on.

To promote Canada's official languages, 3 additional streams with no intake caps have also been launched for French-speaking or bilingual candidates. Communities across Canada benefit from French-speaking and bilingual newcomers, and this pathway will contribute to the vitality of these Francophone minority communities.

“As essential workers, we do permanent work and therefore we should be granted permanent immigration status so we can bring our family soonest to Canada, especially our children who need our guidance as their parents,” says Judy of  CDWCR (Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregiver Rights).

Julie of CDWCR expressed concern because "The migrant workers are worried that the 6 months window is too short to gather all the requirements."

“This immigration program announcement excludes migrant student workers like me who do not meet these narrow and arbitrary requirements,” adds  Sashanna of Migrant Students United.

According to Emer Robles, a retired immigration consultant: “The news article states that government simply "plans" to offer foreign workers pathways to become permanent residents.  If the Immigration Minister is serious in giving temporary foreign workers doing essential work a break, he can exercise his broad and general powers of granting them permanent residence   on compassionate and humanitarian considerations under IRPA (Immigration and Refugee Protection Act) except those who are criminally inadmissible.”

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