CIC - Spring 2021

COVID-19 and Beyond

The role of colleges and institutes in Canada’s resilient recovery

Over 95% of Canadians live within 50km of a college, institute, cegep or polytechnic. With their extensive footprint across the country, these institutions are making a difference in communities from coast to coast to coast. During the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and institutes have shown resilience and creativity, pivoting quickly to meet the needs of their students and communities through online instruction, providing applied-research services to local businesses re-tooling their operations for the production of PPE, offering free online training to individuals and SMEs affected by the crisis, and donating food, shelter and more to those in need. It is at times like these that the integral place of colleges and institutes at the heart of their communities, is so apparent. 

Their role will be just as important as we look to recover from this unprecedented health crisis and its wide-ranging impacts, both social and economic, and deal with the pressing needs stemming from climate change and technological disruption. COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work, and learn, and every Canadian has been affected. Efforts to rebuild a clean, green, sustainable economy and get people back to work, while ensuring their health and safety, will therefore require all of us to pull together. This will depend on future-focused policies and support measures that reach Canadians where they are, and that are adaptable to their particular circumstances and challenges. Given the global nature of this pandemic, which has interrupted international travel, ensuring Canada continues to attract the international students who will become such an important part of our future workforce will be equally important.  

Colleges and institutes are ideally placed to support Canadians and help their communities recover in the months ahead. Through their deep community connections, their commitment to respond to the evolving needs of local stakeholders and employers, and their proven track-record in terms of skills development, they are poised to support a strong and sustainable economic recovery. This starts by helping Canadians develop the skills they need to succeed in uncertain times and meeting the evolving labour requirements of employers, in part by attracting international students to Canada and helping them transition to the labour market and citizenship. Helping Canadian businesses, particularly SMEs, innovate and grow by leveraging the full potential of college and institute applied research capacity will also be critical as we look to rebuild a resilient, sustainable and green economy. 

To learn more about how colleges and institutes can help Canadians and support recovery, visit

By Colleges and Institutes Canada