Premier Darrell Dexter says he'll talk with his fellow Atlantic premiers about escalating job action measures by Canada's Foreign Service officers that are keeping international students out of the country.
The federal government and the union representing diplomats and immigration officers abroad have been locked in a contract negotiation battle for months. As part of escalating job action measures, diplomats at key visa application centres — including Beijing, Delhi, Sao Paolo and Mexico City — have withdrawn their services.
Earlier this week the Association of Atlantic Universities pleaded for an end to the contract dispute, saying it's getting more difficult for international students to get the necessary visas to study in Canada.
Dexter said the application slowdown could force international students to opt for American schools where the visa process is speedier.
"One of the interesting things is that the United States, which of course is famous for its level of security in respect to these things, actually expedites student visas, very, very quickly. Often times much quicker than we get in Canada," he said.
"If you’ve got five universities on your radar and two of them are in Canada and three are in the United States and you get your visa into the United States in three days then when you are trying to plan for the future if you have to wait two months before you know if you’re even going to get a student visa it makes it a heck of a lot more likely you are you going to choose one of the three options in the U.S."
Dexter said he'll bring up the issue next week when all Canadian premiers meet in Ontario.