Provincial and federal updates in response to COVID-19

May 14, 2020    Source: BCCIE

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Provincial updates

The Province of British Columbia is aware of the significant pressures that many students are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are actively working to determine how best to support students in this unprecedented time. These resources may be of help to international students in BC. We will update the list as information becomes available.

Information about all COVID-19 provincial support is available on the BC government website, including on child care, children and youth; education; employment and finances; housing and monthly bills; health care and mental health, and more. Updated information about federal and provincial benefits for individuals and businesses is available online.

Read a message from Hon. Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills & Training.

Post-secondary Institution Supports and Services

Many post-secondary institutions are providing student housing, financial, and other assistance, including bursaries and emergency funding for international students. International students should connect directly with their institutions to inquire on supports and services.

Mental Health and Wellness

  • The Government of British Columbia has launched Here2Talk, a new mental health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students. The service offers confidential, free single-session services by app, phone or online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Download the Here2Talk app, visit: here2talk.ca, or call toll free 1-877-857-3397 or direct 604-642-5212.  More information.

Housing

BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program

  • The BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program gives tenants and landlords temporary support towards rent payments for renters impacted by COVID-19. International students renting off campus are eligible if they meet the requirements, including renting a primary residence in BC. More information can be found on BC Housing.org

​Health care

Medical Services Plan (MSP) Response to COVID-19

  • To support international students on study permits, the BC government has made temporary changes to MSP coverage policies.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the MSP coverage wait period has been waived for all new and returning residents, including International Students. More information.
  • If your study permit is about to expire and you are still in Canada, you can apply to IRCC for an extension.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, if your original permit has expired and you are waiting for your new permit to arrive, you may be provided with temporary MSP coverage until July 31, 2020. Contact Health Insurance BC with proof you applied to extend your study permit (for example, the fee receipt).
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, if your permit expired after March 1, 2020, and you have not applied for a new permit, Contact Health Insurance BC to find out if you may be provided with temporary MSP coverage until July 31, 2020.

Federal updates

Global Affairs Canada 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

  • Change to International Student Work Hour Limits – effective immediately and until August 31, 2020, international students may work more than the 20 hours/week during their regular academic session to assist with delivering essential services or functions to protect life and property, such as the health care sector. International students and their employers should consult Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada's Guidance on Essential Services and Functions during the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if the work the student is doing qualifies under this facilitation. For more information please consult IRCC's news release.
  • Ten questions and answers about CERB in multiple languages so international students and others can get the information they need, in the language they are most comfortable with.
  • Post-Graduation Work Permit Program May 14 update.
  • Post-Graduation Work Permit Program April 8 update.

Public Health Agency of Canada

  • List of resources relating to COVID-19 translated in multiple languages. Fact sheets, infographics, and videos with key public health advice on COVID-19 are added and updated regularly.