Since the outset of the pandemic, governments have introduced many measures to protect public health and provide financial assistance for workers. These measures are not limited to citizens and permanent residents.
Access to healthcare for all
Any person living in Quebec can do a COVID-19 test free of charge and receive treatment free of charge if they test positive for COVID-19. This applies regardless of immigration status.
You can therefore receive a COVID-19 test and treatment even if you are not covered by the Régime d’assurance-maladie du Québec (RAMQ or Quebec medicare) or your RAMQ card has expired. This also applies if you are a person with no legal immigration status in Canada (sometimes called “non-status”).
You are not obliged to reveal your immigration status to medical personnel in order to receive the COVID-19 test or treatment.
Access to financial assistance programs
Several compensation programs have been put in place to assist workers who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
These programs are not restricted to Canadian citizens or permanent residents. You could be eligible for these programs if you have a valid work permit and you are a foreign worker, an international student, a refugee claimant or an accepted refugee. You must also meet certain other requirements.
The federal government has announced that families receiving the Canada Child Benefit will get an extra 300$ per child with their regular May payment.
Reminder: it is important to maintain a legal immigration status
Being diagnosed with COVID-19 does not mean you have to leave Canada. Such a diagnosis does not affect your immigration status or your chances of obtaining a different immigration status or being accepted as a refugee.
However, you must maintain a valid immigration status in order to remain legally in Canada. This applies even during the pandemic (and even though healthcare for COVID-19 is available regardless of immigration status, as explained above).
You should therefore make sure to apply, before the expiry of your current authorized stay, for an extension of your immigration status, or for another type of immigration status, if you are eligible. Consult the website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for information on extending your immigration status and on changes to immigration procedures during the pandemic. Note that the normal fees for applications continue to apply.
Removal orders have been temporarily suspended during the pandemic.
Most organizations assisting refugees and immigrants remain accessible during the pandemic and are offering information and assistance remotely. Information on the pandemic is available in many languages.
International students can contact their university or college. Many provide information and support. Some are also offering financial assistance.