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Letter to the Editor: Son will be working in the Alps this season, not Whistler

'I cannot imagine that many young people would have applied for the IEC program 41 weeks before the ski season starts'
Whistler blackcomb ski instructor leads group on a sunny day
A Whistler Blackcomb ski instructor leads a pair of students down the mountain.

I feel for all the small-business owners in Whistler.

My 18-year-old son learned to ski at the Whistler Blackcomb ski school and has grown up skiing in Whistler. He and two of his friends wanted to come to Whistler to work and ski this winter season.

He has joint Irish and British nationality, and his friends are British. They applied for the International Experience Canada (IEC) working holiday visa. Canadian Immigration has informed him that it will take them 41 weeks to process his application!

What’s more, for the IEC, one applies into a “pool” from which certain applicants are then invited to apply for the actual visa. The quota for Irish passport holders is 10,150; there are 8,537 spots still available, and only 2,677 applicants in the pool. Despite this, he has been advised by the Canadian government website that the chances of him receiving an invitation are “very low.”

First, why does processing this visa take so long? The equivalent visa in Ireland is processed within four weeks, and in the U.K. in three weeks. I cannot imagine that many young people would have applied for the IEC program 41 weeks before the ski season starts, i.e. in mid-summer this year, when the Canadian border was still closed and there was no suggestion it would re-open.

Secondly, why are his prospects of receiving an invitation so low, when there is a quota that is more than three times the number of applicants?

If this is an undisclosed COVID-19- risk limitation measure by the Canadian government, and there is a weighting based upon perceived risk by country, the criteria should be place of residence, not passport.

My son is resident in Hong Kong, which has had no local COVID-19 cases for more than 40 days.

Apologies, Whistler business owners—he wanted to come and help this winter, but it looks as though he will have to go to the Alps instead.

Oonagh Toner // Hong Kong