Dear Honourable Marco Mendicino,

On November 24, 2020, students and members of the community rallied alongside the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change outside of your Toronto Office to call for the immediate extension of work permits to the thousands of migrant students facing deportation. 

The Canadian Federation of Students is in solidarity with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change in demanding that migrant workers not be punished for this pandemic. 

Due to the restrictive limits of the Post-Graduate Work Permits (PGWP), recent-graduate international students are suffering. Whereas these students pursue PGWPs in order to complete 12 to 24 months of high-wage work in efforts to secure permanent residence, the pandemic has inhibited this process and forced thousands of individuals into minimum-wage essential, yet precarious work, or forced them out of a job completely. The current state of our Canadian job market and the economy is directly jeopardizing international students’ pathway to permanent residency.

We understand that this pandemic has been difficult across all fronts. Therefore, in consideration of the global impacts, and in working to rebuild an even stronger Canada, it is critical that you make immediate extensions to all PGWPs. This extension will provide migrant students with the ability to fulfill the time-restricted provisions of their work permits and subsequently apply for permanent residency. 

We are calling on you, as Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, to act swiftly and with compassion to enact renewable work permits for migrant students. Do not force thousands of individuals to choose between leaving behind their friends, families and communities, or becoming undocumented. Inaction on this decision will cause significant harm to the lives of migrant students, the communities that welcome them, and the post-secondary education system as a whole.

As you stated within the opening remarks of your letter to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, “We know that immigrants make important contributions to Canada, both economically and through cultural diversity, and our government will continue to defend immigration in this country. Our aim is to further improve Canada’s immigration system for the benefit of all Canadians and newcomers. This is no small task and it is a responsibility that I do not take lightly.” 

Therefore, we ask that you uphold this commitment to protect the individuals who have spent years making invaluable contributions to our national research, diversified the knowledge shared on our campuses, and contributed billions of dollars outside of tuition to our Canadian economy. Especially in a global pandemic, it is this government’s responsibility to support people living in this country. 

In solidarity,

The Canadian Federation of Students