An ambitious plan by Canadian language schools to bring in 40,000 students for the fall semester is currently awaiting government approval. According to an advocacy group for Canadian language schools, admitting these students would inject $533 million of revenue into the Canadian economy by March 2021. It would also provide much-needed support to the beleaguered Canadian tourism industry in addition to the teaching jobs it would protect.
Students admitted under this plan will require a negative Covid-19 test result before departing their home countries and language schools will provide students with facilities to safely quarantine upon their arrival in Canada.
Many Canadian educational institutions depend on the tuition paid by foreign students to stay in business. International students in Canada contribute over $22B/year to the Canadian economy. With Covid-19 related travel restrictions preventing normal classroom operations, Canadian language schools have been hit particularly hard.
International students in Canada are also a core component of Canada’s immigration strategy. Many Canadian immigration programs are designed for international students because they have Canadian experience and are therefore more likely to integrate easily into the workforce.
Why Canadian language schools are seeking fresh admissions
According to Languages Canada, an advocacy group for Canadian language schools, over 75% of Canada’s accredited English and French programs risk permanent closure over the next six months. If the Covid-19 pandemic continues into 2021, the situation for Canadian language schools could become even worse.
The Study Safe Corridor
The Study Safe Corridor is a plan created by Languages Canada. As per their website, the Study Safe Corridor supports students and protects Canadians through every step of students’ study-in-Canada journey. To keep students and Canadians safe, Languages Canada claims that they will:
- Ensure that, prior to travel, students are qualified and comply with the requirements for safe travel and mandatory quarantine upon arrival to Canada;
- Make all necessary arrangements for students’ safe travel and 14-day quarantine upon arrival;
- Monitor and support students throughout the duration of their mandatory quarantine; and
- Provide an academic environment that adheres to the regulations and guidelines of the federal, provincial, and local public health authorities.
The Study Safe Corridor already has Canadian businesses signed up to assist with the effort. If approved by the Federal government, the Study Safe Corridor would see students brought to Canada on chartered Air Canada flights from select destinations where anyone boarding the plane would be pre-screened for Covid-19. Canadian hotels have also expressed interest in providing facilities for these students to safely quarantine when they arrive in Canada.
Concerns about safety
Languages Canada claims their plan is safe for Canadians and students but others are more skeptical. CBC News spoke with Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious and tropical disease specialist who teaches at the University of Toronto and works part-time at a COVID-19 assessment centre.
“The virus is surging around the world,” she said. “People are dying of this. A lot of people have sacrificed a lot to keep us safe. Why would we take the risk of people coming from all around the world into Canada?”
It has yet to be seen if the plan will be approved by federal authorities. Canada is doing well at flattening the Covid-19 curve so bringing in 40K students might make some politicians nervous for their constituents. That said, the federal government has already made significant concessions to help international students commence or continue their studies in Canada.
This is a developing story and ITC News will update you as new information becomes available.