This was far from an ordinary year, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing us to reevaluate our advocacy priorities and respond to emerging challenges late in the fiscal year.
Our main priorities were initially shared in August, when we set out seven recommendations as part of our submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee of Finance’s pre-budget consultations in advance of Budget 2020.
We also played a lead role in convening a College Applied Research Taskforce, comprising seven national and regional associations, to insist on the importance of helping Canadian SMEs access the research and development resources available at colleges and institutes. Our joint submission was shared with the Standing Committee of Finance and we also sent a joint letter directly to the minister of Finance.
Though these recommendations stand, COVID-19 forced us to pivot quickly in March. Our advocacy efforts became focused on ensuring that Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provided sufficient flexibility to international students who were set to begin their studies at a college or institute but could no longer enter the country. Thanks to our efforts, international students were allowed to begin and complete up to 50% of their program online from abroad in anticipation of a transition to Canada without compromising their eligibility for the post-graduate work permit. At time of writing, these exceptional measures have been confirmed until December 31, 2020.