Letter to PM Trudeau about reopening the border

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

Our private language school, International Gateway Kelowna, has been closed since early March just like the majority of other Canada private language schools (100+). I wonder if you thought of how your recent decision to extend border closures and self-quarantine rules negatively effects language schools?

Most private language schools rely nearly 100% on international students for their livelihood. Our school like many others has laid off 90%-100% of our staff, been forced to close temporarily and cannot receive new students until the border reopens. The majority of schools have also lost much needed peak summer income from short term adult and teen language camps which accounts for more than 50% of  yearly revenue. Language school students come to Canada for the total immersion and cultural experience and most don’t want to take online English or French classes as an alternative. They can undertake those options in their home countries or from Indian or Philippine schools for a fraction of the cost so that’s not an option for most Canadian language schools.

The language travel industry brings more than $20 billion into the Canadian economy every year and also into cities where international students reside. Students spend money in the community on homestays, hotels, residences etc. and on food and entertainment. I am sure tourism, airline industries and public colleges and universities are suffering a similar fate as language schools but at least they can get business from within Canada.

Here’s an idea! How about redirecting Government sponsored English and French classes for new immigrants to private language schools that you currently hand out for free at the expense of Canadian taxpayers? New immigrants should have to pay for classes just like everyone else.

Our school doesn’t want additional Federal handouts as they are of minimal assistance in our industry; what we do want are the borders to reopen as soon as possible especially by air just like they have for students going to New Zealand, Australia, Malta, Ireland and most of the EU. Why does Canada have to be last?

Open the borders now, reduce self quarantining time and let’s get back to work!

Yes, there may be a few consequences but how long will you continue to keep students, tourists and international business travelers out of the country that we all desperately need; especially in predominantly tourism based economies like Kelowna?

Yours truly,

Dale Lockhart

CEO/President

International Gateway Kelowna