Work Restrictions Lifted for International Students Working in Essential Services due to COVID-19

On April, 22, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced  they have temporarily lifted certain work restrictions for international students. Until August 31, 2020, students who were normally only eligible to work part time (up to 20hrs per week) during regular class sessions may now work full-time as long as they are working in an essential service or function.

It is important that international students and their employers ensure that the work is considered an essential service or function. Public Safety Canada has released guidance on what industries and positions are considered to be essential services in Canada, found at this link. There are a number of jobs listed within each industry.  Below are examples of industries and roles that would fall under the newly announced work restriction exemptions:

Roles under the Health category, including but not limited to:

  • Workers in other medical facilities (including ambulatory health and surgical, blood banks, clinics, community mental health, comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation, end stage renal disease, health departments, home health care, hospices, hospitals, long term care, procurement organizations, psychiatric facilities, and rural health clinics)

Roles under the Food category, including but not limited to:

  • Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other outlets (such as convenience and pet food stores) that sells food and beverage products
  • Restaurant employees necessary to support take-out and food delivery operations
  • Company in-house cafeterias used to feed employees

Roles under the Transportation, including but not limited to:

  • Truck transportation employees, including drivers, dispatchers, maintenance and repair technicians, warehouse workers, truck stop and commercial vehicle inspection station workers, rest area workers, and workers that maintain and inspect critical infrastructure (including those that require cross-border travel)
  • Transportation workers involved in construction work and necessary supporting services

This is a welcome announcement given the significant strain that essential frontline industries are under at present.

We will continue to update our clients with information as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or would like assistance with developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s other COVID-19 website resources.

Print article

More insights


Our complimentary webinars address the practical and legal issues for Canadian employers.

View our Webinars