Justin Trudeau’s government announced it will start expediting permanent residency next month for foreign workers on the front lines of the pandemic, as part of efforts to keep more of them in the country.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced on Wednesday a new program that shortens the residency requirement to one year, from three, for workers in the health system and other “essential” sectors like long-term care. Up to 90,000 new permanent residents will be admitted under the plan, which also facilitate immigrant status for international students.

The program is part of the Canadian government’s plan to ramp up immigrant numbers this year from the existing pool of foreign workers, as travel restrictions prevent inflows of people into the country. Trudeau plans to give immigration status to 401,000 people this year, more than double last year’s levels.

“It’s an incredibly important step in delivering on our 2021 immigration levels plan, which we are determined to achieve,” Mendicino said in a phone interview. “We are ahead of where we planned to be in the year.”

The program opens on May 6 and runs until Nov. 5.