Prime minister Justin Trudeau announced on March 16 that entry into Canada would be suspended for anyone who wasn’t a Canadian or US permanent resident or citizen, meaning international students abroad on exchanges or research trips faced being left in the lurch.

“Details around…those with student or worker visas are currently being developed”

Further plans to shut the US-Canada border for all but essential travel are also in the works.

However, on March 18 Public Safety minister Bill Blair said that there would be exemptions for international students and temporary workers, although they would have to observe a 14-day quarantine. However, this is yet to be confirmed.

“Details around temporary foreign workers and those with student or worker visas are currently being developed and will be announced shortly,” the office of the Minister of Public Safety told The PIE News.

It is not known how many students are currently affected by Canada’s border closures, although Paul Davidson, president and CEO of Universities Canada, told The Star he estimates the number to be in the “hundreds”.

Universities are continuing to support their students abroad until a clear statement on the status of international students is made.

“Canada’s universities respect the importance of the Government of Canada’s measures in protecting the health and safety of Canadians, and are working closely with our member universities to understand the impacts of these measures,” Cindy McIntyre, assistant director of international relations at Universities Canada, explained.

“We are in constant communication with federal departments to share and resolve the issues raised by universities.”

As of March 19, Canada had 846 confirmed cases of COVID-19 which have so far resulted in 27 deaths. The majority of these cases have been in British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.

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