March 18, 2020

Supporting each other through COVID-19

As we all watch attentively for updates from public health authorities in Canada and around the world regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to inform you of the steps we are taking to support the health and safety of our staff, our members, and our partners. We are trying our best to take the steps necessary to help keep people safe and contribute to global efforts to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Firstly, we have made the decision to close our offices in Ottawa until further notice. We want you to know that all CICan staff, while working from home, remain accessible during business hours. Employees will not be travelling for non-essential work-related reasons and in-person meetings have all been moved online. Though this will require adjustments on all parts, we remain as committed as ever to serving as the national and international voice of Canadian colleges and institutes.

As provinces, territories, cities, and regions have been affected to varying degrees, you have all responded with dexterity. Last week, through an online survey, we asked you to share how each of your institutions have met challenges and to provide us with advice and suggestions to better support you at this time.  We thank you for your insights and invite you to join a webinar we will be hosting this Friday, March 20 to share the full results of the survey.

This webinar will be the first in a series starting March 20, 12-1:30 EST, and continuing every two weeks thereafter to update you on our efforts in Ottawa and allow you to share amongst yourselves how the situation is evolving in your various regions, and what approaches you are taking to tackle the challenges.

We encourage you also to consult Eduvation’s COVID-19 on Canadian Campuses update, which provides a detailed summary of the measures, including alternate exam arrangements, face-to-face class suspensions, and campus closures, put in place at various post-secondary institutions across the country. Follow us on Twitter where we will share more resources as they become available.

With regard to border closures and international students, we are pleased to share that Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada has decided that courses of study being delivered online on an exceptional basis due to COVID-19 will not affect eligibility for post-graduation work permits. For international students currently outside of Canada and returning from study terms and internships abroad, we will provide an update as soon as more information becomes available.

We recognize that many of you are also involved in CICan projects both domestically and internationally. We are working with funders to ensure flexibility in meeting deadlines and are in regular conversation with the relevant federal departments. We have also recommended that the launch of the Outbound Student Mobility program be postponed until the fall given the circumstances.

Finally, given the continuing concerns and the advice of public-health authorities to avoid large gatherings and limit non-essential travel, we have also made the difficult decision to cancel the upcoming 2020 CICan Connection Conference and related pre-conference activities scheduled to take place in Montreal from May 1st to 5th. While this decision was not made lightly, we feel that this is the most responsible step to be taken at this time. All registrants will be contacted shortly and will be eligible for reimbursement of registration fees in full.

Given the small-group format and date in late June, our upcoming Leadership Institutes will continue as planned for the time being. We will keep you informed in the event of any changes, postponements, or cancellations. Please contact our Members Relations team if you have any questions.

This is a challenging time that calls upon each one of us to act in the best interests of all Canadians, and citizens around the world. We are committed to supporting our employees, their families, our members, and their communities through this unprecedented period.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to CICan for support and to those in your communities who may be more vulnerable. In times like these, we must all adapt and be resilient.