A recent survey determined that without immediate government action, 68% of Canada’s English and French programs will close permanently in the next six months, with LC member schools inlingua Vancouver and Global Village Vancouver having already announced closures due to the Covid-19 crisis.
“The sector is not just falling through cracks, ‘this is the Grand Canyon'”
In a statement, the association which represents over 216 language education programs said that while the Canadian government programs implemented to date have been of some support, the challenges faced by Languages Canada members are not being adequately addressed.
“The Canadian government has announced a wide range of programs throughout the global pandemic, but none of these programs addresses the critical issues facing language programs geared towards international students,” it read.
“Simply put, international language education is falling entirely through the cracks, and unless action is taken, it’s headed towards total devastation.”
Languages Canada has requested three actions from IRCC: provide conditional visas to qualified international students so they may confidently enrol in Canadian educational institutions; declare international students essential travellers so they may come to Canada through the Study Safe Corridor to ensure the safety of Canadians and international students; and to not discriminate international students according to type of visa.
The statement explained that Languages Canada members are proposing a special and safe process to be implemented so that they can start welcoming back international students as quickly as possible through distance and in-person programs.
“Every day without a response from IRCC is a blow to Canadian language educators and has deep repercussions for the post-secondary institutions.
“The government cannot afford to abandon an industry that brings billions of dollars in exports, attracts 150,000 foreign students every year, provides students for post-secondary education, contributes to tourism, and supports Canadian immigration objectives,” it concluded.
According to executive director of Languages Canada, Gonzalo Peralta, however, the sector is not just falling through cracks, “this is the Grand Canyon”.
“While the government programs implemented to date have been of some support, there is yet to be a program that truly addresses the challenges our members have faced,” he said.
“And now even as international education is already beginning to take off again in other parts of the world, Canadian policy won’t allow us to work responsibly to save the sector.”
Cath D’Amico, director, Trent International pointed out that the industry relies heavily on appropriate visas for international students entering Canada.
“Completely closed borders are, quite frankly, devastating to our sector,” she said.
“Without federal commitment, support, and decisive action, the entire language education sector could be decimated, which will have a domino effect on higher education, as students turn to countries where they can complete all of their studies seamlessly.”
Canada’s English and French language education sector is a critical segment of its CAD$22 billion international education sector, welcoming over 150,000 international students each year and employing more than 9,000 people.