The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is stepping up efforts to track coronavirus mutations and keep vaccines and treatments effective against new variants until collective immunity is reached, the agency’s chief said on Sunday.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke about the rapidly evolving virus during a Fox News Sunday interview as the number of Americans known to be infected surpassed 25 million, with more than 419,000 dead, just over a year after the first U.S. case was documented.
Walensky, who took over as CDC director the day President Joe Biden was sworn in, also said the greatest immediate culprit for sluggish vaccine distribution was a supply crunch worsened by inventory confusion inherited from the Trump administration.
“The fact that we don’t know today, five days into this administration, and weeks into planning, how much vaccine we have just gives you a sense of the challenges we’ve been left with,” she told Fox News Sunday.
Biden’s transition team was largely excluded from the vaccine rollout deliberations for weeks after his election, as then president Donald Trump refused to concede defeat and permit access to information his successor needed to prepare to govern.
In a separate interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, said a plan for distributing the vaccine, particularly beyond nursing homes and hospitals, “did not really exist when we came into the White House.”
Walensky said she was confident the government would soon resolve supply questions, and go on to dramatically expand vaccine production and distribution by late March.
Uncertainty over immediate supplies, however, will hinder efforts at the state and local levels to plan ahead for how many vaccination sites, personnel and appointments to set up in the meantime, exacerbating short-term shortages, she said.
Race against variants
Vaccination has become ever more urgent with the recent emergence of several coronavirus variants believed to be more transmissible, and in the case of one strain first detected in Britain, possibly more lethal.
“We are now scaling up both our surveillance of these and our study of these,” Walensky said, noting that the CDC was collaborating with the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and even the Pentagon.
The object, she said, was to monitor “the impact of these variants on vaccines, as well as on our therapeutics,” as the virus continues to mutate while it spreads.
Until vaccines can provide “herd” immunity in the population, mask-wearing and physical distancing remain vital to “decrease the amount of virus that is circulating, and therefore, decrease the amount of variants,” Walensky said.
Although British officials on Friday warned that the variant of the coronavirus first identified in the U.K., already detected in at least 20 U.S. states, was associated with a higher level of mortality, scientists have said existing vaccines still appeared to be effective against it.
They worry, however, that a more contagious South African variant may reduce the efficacy of current vaccines and shows resistance to three antibody treatments developed for patients. Similarities between the South African variant and another identified in Brazil suggest the Brazilian variant may likewise resist antibody treatment.
“We’re in a race against these variants,” said Vivek Murthy, nominated by Biden to become the next U.S. surgeon general, on ABC’s This Week program on Sunday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, said in late December he was optimistic the United States could achieve enough collective immunity to regain “some semblance of normality” by the fall of 2021.
But Murthy said getting to herd immunity before a new school year begins in September was “an ambitious goal.” Nevertheless, Murthy suggested the government may exceed Biden’s objective of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of his presidency, telling ABC News, “That’s a floor; it’s not a ceiling.”
Fauci, appearing separately on CBS News’ Face the Nation, said the 100-million goal includes those who may have received both injections of the two-dose vaccines and those who only got the first.
About 21.8 million Americans, or about 6.5 per cent of the population, have received at least one dose of vaccine to date, of the 41.4 million doses shipped, CDC data showed on Sunday.
On Monday, hard-hit California lifted regional stay-at-home orders statewide in response to improving coronavirus conditions. Public health officials said the state will return to a system of county-by-county restrictions intended to stem the spread of the virus. The state is also lifting a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew.
The decision comes with improving trends in the rate of infections, hospitalizations and intensive care unit capacity as well as vaccinations. The lifting of the order is based on projections that the state says show improving ICU conditions, although officials have not disclosed the data behind the forecasts.
-From The Associated Press, last updated at 11:45 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
WATCH | Where things stand 1 year after Canada’s 1st COVID-19 case:
Ontario on Monday reported 1,958 new cases of COVID-19, according to a tweet from Health Minister Christine Elliott. The province also reported 43 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 5,846.
“Locally, there are 727 new cases in Toronto, 365 in Peel and 157 in York Region,” Elliott said in a tweet.
Hospitalizations in Ontario stood at 1,398, with 397 COVID-19 patients in the province’s intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.
The updated figures come after schools in seven public health units in the hard-hit province were set to reopen for in-person classes on Monday. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that means 100,000 students will be returning to the classroom for the first time since before the winter break.
Ontario is implementing more safety measures in areas where schools are reopening, including requiring students in Grades 1 through 3 to wear masks indoors and when physical distancing isn’t possible outside as well. It’s also introducing “targeted asymptomatic testing” and enhanced screening protocols in those regions.
In Quebec on Monday, health officials reported 1,203 new cases of COVID-19. Hospitalizations stood at 1,321, with 217 people in intensive care, according to the province.
As of 11:20 a.m. ET Monday morning, Canada had reported 750,546 cases of COVID-19, with 62,621 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 19,180.
The House of Commons is back in session on Monday, albeit with virtual attendance, after a six-week break. The minority federal government’s handling of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign is expected to dominate the agenda.
Here’s a look at what’s happening across the country:
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 10:55 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Monday morning, more than 99.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been detected worldwide, with more than 54.8 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.1 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong has formally approved use of the Fosun Pharma-BioNTech vaccine, the city government said on Monday, the first COVID-19 vaccine to be accepted in the Asian financial hub.
The first batch of around one million doses is expected to arrive in the second half of February, the government said in a statement. The move comes with Hong Kong lagging other developed cities in rolling out vaccines and after mainland China started its vaccine program in July last year.
Hong Kong has secured a total of 22.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Fosun Pharma-BioNTech, China’s Sinovac Biotech and Oxford-AstraZeneca, the city’s leader Carrie Lam said in December.
Fosun Pharma is German drug manufacturer BioNTech’s partner in Greater China including in special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau. Fosun is responsible for cold-chain management, storage and distribution. China’s Sinovac vaccine is likely to arrive in Hong Kong after BioNTech’s vaccine in February, with AstraZeneca’s vaccine due by the middle of the year.
Home to 7.5 million residents, Hong Kong has a separate approval process from the mainland for vaccines. The city has recorded nearly 10,000 coronavirus cases and 166 deaths since January 2020. Cases have spiked over the past week after an outbreak in an old residential building located in a busy commercial and residential area.
In China, a vaccination program for emergency use started in July with products from domestic manufacturers Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech. The program was widened in December to focus on additional priority groups including employees in the cold-chain industry, transportation sector and fresh food markets.
Bangladesh has taken delivery of five million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from an Indian producer. Bangladesh has planned to buy 30 million doses of vaccines from the Serum Institute of India in phases.
Australia has suspended its partial travel bubble with New Zealand after New Zealand reported its first coronavirus case outside of a quarantine facility in two months.
Thailand on Monday discovered a record 914 new cases of the coronavirus, all in Samut Sakhon province near Bangkok where a major outbreak began in December. The new cases shot the national total past 14,000.
The previous high was on Jan. 4, when 745 cases were reported, mostly in Samut Sakhon among migrant workers from Myanmar. The province is a centre for fishing and industry. The first case reported in the recent surge was detected there in mid-December at a major seafood market, which has been closed. Any new cases in other provinces will be announced in Tuesday.
In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he was looking at toughening border quarantine rules because of the risk of “vaccine-busting” new coronavirus variants.
Norway will widen the capital region’s lockdown from Monday, increasing the number of affected municipalities to 25, while Sweden said on Sunday it would temporarily stop all foreigners coming in from Norway from midnight.
German police said hundreds of cars and pedestrians are lining up at border crossings along the Czech-German border after Germany declared the Czech Republic a high risk area in the pandemic, meaning it requires proof of a negative coronavirus test result before entry.
At the crossings in Waldmuenchen and Fuerth im Wald, authorities said hundreds of cars lined up on the Czech side trying to get into Germany in the early morning hours. Further backup was expected during the day Monday.
In the Americas, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he has tested positive for COVID-19.
In the Middle East, Israel will ban passenger flights in and out of the country from Monday evening for a week.
Oman will extend the close of its land borders for another week until Feb. 1.
President Hassan Rouhani said COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in the coming weeks in Iran, the Middle East’s worst hit country.
In Africa, four Zimbabwean cabinet ministers have died of COVID-19, three within the past two weeks, highlighting a resurgence of the disease that is sweeping through the southern African country.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the coronavirus is reaping a “grim harvest” in the country.
“The pandemic has been indiscriminate. There are no spectators, adjudicators, no holier than thou. No supermen or superwomen. We are all exposed,” Mnangagwa said in a nationally televised address.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 10:10 a.m. ET
Have questions about COVID-19 in Canada? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca
After a year of struggling to boost coronavirus testing, communities across the United States are seeing plummeting demand, leading to shuttered testing sites or even attempts to return supplies.
The drop in screening comes at a significant moment in the outbreak: Experts are cautiously optimistic that COVID-19 is receding after killing more than 510,000 people in the U.S., but they are concerned that emerging variants could prolong the epidemic.
U.S. testing hit a peak on Jan. 15, when the country was averaging more than two million tests per day. Since then, the average number of daily tests has fallen more than 28 per cent. The drop mirrors declines across all major virus measures since January, including new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Officials say those encouraging trends — together with harsh winter weather, the end of the holiday travel season, pandemic fatigue and a growing focus on vaccination — are sapping interest in testing.
“When you combine all those together, you see this decrease,” said Dr. Richard Pescatore of the health department in Delaware, where daily testing has fallen more than 40 per cent since the January peak. “People just aren’t going to go out to testing sites.”
U.S. President Joe Biden has promised to revamp the country’s testing system by investing billions more in supplies and government co-ordination. But with demand falling fast, the country may soon have a glut of unused supplies. The U.S. will be able to conduct nearly one billion monthly tests by June, according to projections from researchers at Arizona State University. That’s more than 25 times the country’s current rate of about 40 million tests reported per month.
With more than 150 million new vaccine doses due for delivery by late March, testing is likely to fall further as local governments shift staff and resources to giving shots.
“You have to pick your battles here,” said Dr. Jeffrey Engel of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. “Everyone would agree that if you have one public health nurse, you’re going to use that person for vaccination, not testing.”
What’s happening across Canada
As of 11:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had reported 863,522 cases of COVID-19, with 30,786 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,944.
Canada’s top doctor said that nationally, there are 964 reported cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K., up from 429 reported two weeks ago. There were also 44 cases of the variant first discovered in South Africa and two cases of the version first found in Brazil.
“The risk of rapid re-acceleration remains,” Dr. Theresa Tam said on Friday. “At the same time, new variants continue to emerge … and can become predominant.”
On Friday, Health Canada regulators approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University-AstraZeneca for use in Canada — clearing the way for millions more inoculations in the months ahead.
British Columbia recorded 589 new cases of COVID-19 and seven more deaths on Friday.
Alberta announced 356 new cases and three more deaths. Meanwhile, health officials confirmed two more deaths linked to an outbreak at the Olymel meatpacking plant in Red Deer, bringing the total to three.
Saskatchewan registered 153 new cases but no new deaths.
Manitoba confirmed 64 new cases and one death. The province’s test positivity rate is now at 3.9 per cent, its lowest point in more than four months.
WATCH | Manitoba government considers relaxing COVID-19 rules:
Ontario reported 1,185 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, as well as 16 new deaths.
The province also announced Friday it is activating an “emergency brake” in Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka, sending the regions back into lockdown to “immediately interrupt transmission and contain community spread.”
The two regions will move into the grey lockdown level of Ontario’s COVID-19 restriction plan effective 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday, March 1.
Ontario is reporting 1,185 cases of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> and over 59,400 tests completed. Locally, there are 331 new cases in Toronto, 220 in Peel and 119 in York Region. <br> <br>As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 668,104 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
Quebec reported 858 new cases and 13 new deaths on Saturday.
WATCH | Quebec plans for COVID-19 ‘immunity passports’:
New Brunswick reported two new cases on Saturday. The province is about a week away from rolling into the less-restrictive yellow phase, says Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell.
Newfoundland and Labrador‘s active caseload dropped again as the province reported 52 new recoveries — a single-day record — and four new cases.
Nova Scotia is introducing new restrictions as it tries to stem an increase in COVID-19 cases. The province reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday after reporting eight the day before.
Beginning Saturday, restaurants and bars in the Halifax area must stop serving food and drinks by 9 p.m. and must close by 10 p.m. Restrictions are also being placed on sports, arts and culture events.
WATCH | Nova Scotia imposes new COVID-19 restrictions:
In Prince Edward Island, all young people in Summerside aged 14 to 29 are being urged to get tested immediately, whether or not they have any symptoms, after Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison announced a cluster of new cases there.
In Nunavut, authorities have identified another case in the hamlet of Arviat, a community of about 3,000 people where 312 cases have been confirmed since November. Active cases there are now at 26.
In the Northwest Territories, a Gahcho Kué mine worker who contracted COVID-19 is in critical condition, health authorities confirmed Friday. The territory has seen a total of four people hospitalized for complications related to COVID-19, with three connected to the Gahcho Kué mine. All but one have recovered.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday morning, more than 113.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with 63.8 million of them listed as recovered on a tracking site maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million, according to the U.S.-based university.
In the Middle East, Iran’s Health Ministry said the country expects to receive 250,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China on Saturday. Alireza Raisi, deputy health minister, said the country will receive doses of other vaccines, including from India, in the “near future” as Iran struggles to fight the worst outbreak of the pandemic in the Middle East.
In Asia, more than 500,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday following a two-day delay due to export procedures, offering a second inoculation option for the city. The Pfizer-BioNTech shots will be offered to about 2.4 million eligible residents from priority groups, such as those aged 60 and older and health-care workers.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that the country’s biggest city, Auckland, will be put into a seven-day lockdown from Sunday after a coronavirus community case of unknown origin was recorded. The rest of New Zealand will be put into Level 2 restrictions that limit public gatherings, among others, she told a news conference.
In Europe, French authorities have ordered a local weekend lockdown starting on Friday evening in the French Riviera city of Nice and the surrounding coastal area to try to curb the spread of the virus.
A Second World War-era plane flew Saturday over the funeral service of Capt. Sir Tom Moore to honour the veteran who single-handedly raised millions of pounds for Britain’s health workers by walking laps in his backyard. Moore’s charity walk inspired the nation and raised almost 33 million pounds ($58.5 million Cdn). Captain Tom, as he became known, died Feb. 2 in hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.
In the United States, the House of Representatives passed a $1.9 trillion US coronavirus relief package early Saturday. If approved by the Senate, the American Rescue Plan will pay for vaccines and medical supplies and send a new round of emergency financial aid to households, small businesses and state and local governments. Democrats said the package was needed to fight a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.
In Africa, Ivory Coast has become the second country in the world, after Ghana, to receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the global COVAX initiative. It has received 504,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India.
Why we need to rethink COVID-19 risk as the weather warms up – CBC.ca
This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.
It’s been almost a year of “Stay home. Do nothing. Save lives.” And people are tired.
Pandemic fatigue has turned to pandemic restlessness as the weather shows signs of improving and vaccines gradually roll out across the country.
Hope is on the horizon, but if last spring is any predictor of what lies ahead we can expect to see Canadians flocking outdoors in search of safe ways to gather as temperatures rise.
And with good reason.
After a surge of cases after the holidays, Canada has seen a significant decline in COVID-19 levels across the country following lockdowns in hard-hit regions — even with frigid temperatures driving people indoors and more contagious variants spreading.
As more people get vaccinated, cases (hopefully) continue to decline and society slowly reopens, it may be time to shift our messaging away from strict one-size-fits-all public health guidelines.
Allow small risks to counter fatigue
Experts say officials need to start to shift their messaging and set out realistic parameters for socializing safely over the next few months or risk losing the room — or worse, pushing people to more dangerous behaviour.
Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ont., says guidelines need to shift in Canada to educate people on how to see their friends and family safely.
“Now that transmission is down, we need to start making some discussions on the trade offs,” he said.
“Can you really realistically think that people can wait it out at home without any interactions outside of their household for another three months? Or can you at least start prioritizing and building in low risk stuff, so that you give people the sense of normalcy?”
Chagla says recent negative reactions to outdoor activities like tobogganing and skating rinks mirror concerns at the start of the pandemic, when outdoor gatherings in places like parks were seen as dangerous even with no evidence of transmission occurring.
In Ontario, reservations for provincial parks have surged in anticipation of warmer months ahead, nearly doubling in the first few weeks of this year. Cottage rentals are also in high demand, with bookings at levels never seen before.
There’s no doubt people will want to congregate more as the weather improves, and experts say we should transition from an abstinence approach to one of harm reduction.
“If you gave people that opportunity to do things appropriately outside, how many cases would you then save from indoor activity?” said Chagla.
“If you allow them to take that small risk, you’re preventing the people that are going to fatigue and say, ‘Well, I’m just going to have my family over, we’ve been fine, we’ve been isolating for weeks, I deserve this,’ and then have COVID transmission that way.”
Outside is better than inside
Finding practical ways to alleviate pandemic fatigue and allow for some level of safe interaction in the coming weeks and months will be essential to keeping Canada on a downward trajectory with COVID-19 levels.
“People are tired of the sacrifices they’ve made, and for their mental health and physical health want to see other people and want to socialize,” said Linsey Marr, an expert on the airborne transmission of viruses at Virginia Tech.
“Doing it outdoors is very low risk if you avoid face-to-face conversation with people, maintain your distance and avoid crowds.”
Marr says going for a walk side-by-side, taking an exercise class or even having a beer with friends are all relatively safe outdoors when more than two-metres of space is maintained.
New research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the risk of indoor activities when proper precautions aren’t taken.
In Hawaii, 21 cases were linked to a fitness instructor during a class where physical distancing measures were in place, but masks weren’t worn and airflow wasn’t prioritized.
A similar situation occurred in Chicago, where 55 people were infected with COVID-19 after attending indoor exercise classes despite physical distancing and some mask use.
The missing element in both of those outbreaks was ventilation.
“We should be opening up park spaces, we should be encouraging outdoor activities where people can gather and gather safely and converse and talk and just be with people,” said Erin Bromage, a biology professor and immunologist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth who studies infectious diseases.
“Recognizing that there is a small risk associated with it — but it’s better than the alternative.”
‘Get creative’ with public health messaging
Timothy Caulfield, a Canada Research Chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, said public health officials are walking a “tightrope” in communicating public health guidelines in the coming months.
“We have to figure out ways that we can allow people to live their lives, while still making sure that we’re reducing the risk,” he said. “And I think we need to engage people as part of the solution.”
A recent research article published in SAGE surveyed several hundred Italian and French citizens under strict lockdown and found there was significantly less adherence to public health guidelines when people’s concern about COVID-19 was waning, along with their trust in officials.
WATCH | Dealing with stress in this leg of the pandemic:
The World Health Organization released guidelines for fighting pandemic fatigue, focused on understanding people, allowing them to live their lives while reducing risk, engaging with them to find a solution and acknowledging the impact of the pandemic on their lives.
Caulfield says officials need to evolve their messaging with emerging scientific research and avoid being tuned out by the public by setting realistic guidelines for safely interacting.
“We need to recognize that we’re really getting to a point where there’s going to be profound complacency,” he said.
“There is profound fatigue, and not just fatigue about the lockdown. I think there’s fatigue about the messaging — people are sick of hearing about this stuff. So I think we need to get creative.”
Variants make noncompliance higher risk
Bromage said he’s concerned transmission could soon skyrocket due to increased interactions with warm weather amid the spread of variants.
“We’re heading into March very soon, and March is when the pandemic really took off last year,” he said. “I’m holding my breath, just sort of hoping that it’s not a repeat of 2020 given the changing mobility that comes with the weather.”
COVID-19 levels have risen by about five per cent globally in the past week, after significant declines since the beginning of the year, with recent upticks in parts of Canada and the U.S. concerning officials.
“What comes next is really uncertain. Do we roll back up again? Do we just stay at this level?” said Bromage. “Nobody really knows.”
Chagla says we need to give people more low risk activities to do together in the near future, or risk people hiding their interactions with each other behind closed doors.
“A Zoom call versus seeing a very close friend with a mask in the park is slightly higher risk,” he said. “But I think using it to allay fatigue is probably a whole lot better than the implications of just keeping people at home.”
WATCH: The impact of stress, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic:
Caulfield says officials need to re-evaluate public health messaging and explain clearly to people what’s safe and what isn’t.
“I do want to see recommendations on what they can do outside now and how they can enjoy the weather,” he said. “Let’s put a positive spin on this, letting them know that there are steps that can be taken.”
With the emergence of variants, Chagla says the risk of people letting their guard down now is incredibly high.
“You’ve got to get people on your side for the next few months,” said Chagla. “And realistically offering things to them, rather than taking things away, is going to be the way to do it.”
To read the entire Second Opinion newsletter every Saturday morning, subscribe by clicking here.
Why study in Canada? – Canada Immigration News
It should hardly come as a surprise that Canada ranks third in the world for numbers of international students, with our world-class educational system, friendly and welcoming culture, French and English learning options, and favourable living costs.
In fact, many new Canadians start their path to citizenship through post-secondary education. What begins as a search for adventure can end in falling in love with Canada.
By encouraging immigration schemes that support international students, Canada gains highly educated, productive members of society who make our country better by contributing to academia, working at our best firms, serving as doctors, science, etc. There are many reasons why, barely a year ago, Canada ranked third in the world for most international students, with more than 642,000 attending Canadian post-secondaries. Three major drivers for these numbers include: a world-class system of universities and colleges; a welcoming environment; and tuition and living costs favourable in comparison to the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Studying and working in Canada
There is tremendous value to studying in Canada. International student graduates can be eligible for work permits and immigration programs that lead to permanent residence.
While studying-full time in Canada on a valid study permit, students can work up to 20 hours per week during the school year, and full-time on scheduled breaks. After completion of a post-secondary program, graduates can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). These permits, which are valid for at least eight months and may last for up to three years, allow a great degree of freedom in working legally in Canada. PWGP holders can choose to work full-time, or part time. They have the option of working for themselves or an employer. Perhaps most importantly, they are exempt from the requirement of the Labour Market Impact Assessment. This exemption means that the employer does not have to first prove that there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident available to take the job.
Pathway to permanent residency
Being an international graduate of a Canadian post-secondary institution is also valuable for gaining coveted permanent residency in Canada. Each of Canada’s ten provinces has at least one immigration stream dedicated to the recruitment for permanent residence of foreigners who recently graduated from institutions in a Canadian province. Many provinces have more than one; Manitoba has three and British Columbia has four. Many streams are very broad in their focus while others are targeted for graduates with training in specific areas, such as natural or applied sciences. There are also pathways for those with entrepreneurial ambitions. Some programs are designed for specific levels of education like a Master’s or Ph.D.
International students who want to immigrate through the Express Entry system can get an advantage for having Canadian work experience. Express Entry is a points-based application management system for Canada’s three main federal permanent economic immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class. Candidates can get extra points toward their immigration application for having skilled work experience in Canada.
Why international students make excellent candidates for immigration to Canada
There are many good reasons why federal and provincial governments should prioritize the nomination of international students. International students who graduate from Canadian institutions, generally have many of the qualities that Canada values most in economic immigrants. These attributes include: Canadian study or work experience; high educational attainment; and relative youth. Studying in Canada also demands and develops strong skills in English or French, another key to gaining permanent residency and succeeding in Canada.
Such individuals, by their very nature, generally have many of the qualities, in addition to Canadian study and/or work experience, that Canada values most in its economic immigrants, particularly: high educational attainment; relative youth; and, strong proficiency in English and/or French. Research has identified each of these factors as promoting immigrant integration and success in Canada.
Continuing to welcome international students
Hosting international students is clearly a priority for Canada, and this year has been an excellent test case for finding innovative solutions to bureaucratic hurdles.
The federal government has invited post-secondary institutions to develop quarantine plans for arriving international students. If the government approves the institution’s plan, it can welcome new international students. The federal government has also modified some of the rules regarding international students to accommodate people who— through no fault of their own— are currently unable to be physically present on campus. For example, distance or online learning normally cannot qualify as study for the purposes of a study permit or PGWP. The government has relaxed this rule to not penalize students away from campus due to COVID-19, and to make it clear that Canada still values them and hopes they will return when the situation stabilizes.
IRCC has also relaxed deadlines for PGWP applications and renewals. Circumstances have changed, but Canada remains committed to welcoming the learners of today and Canadians of the future.
Whether you are a Manitoba graduate with a job offer in the province, an Ontario Ph.D. graduate looking to settle permanently, or an International Graduate Entrepreneur seeking to build a business in Nova Scotia, study in Canada can be not only the start of an exciting and enriching educational experience, but also the launching pad to building your life in Canada.
© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.
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