Sean Casey

Your member of parliament for


Sean Casey

Your member of parliament for



Supporting international recruitment to help attract and retain skilled workers in PEI

Being able to fill gaps in the labour market with highly educated and skilled students is critical for Atlantic Canadian businesses to thrive and grow the economy. The region’s skills shortage is top of mind within federal and provincial governments, and is a high priority for post-secondary institutions looking to recruit students from other countries. That is why both orders of government are teaming up to support the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) and Holland College as the schools build on their international student recruitment and retention efforts.

Sean Casey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for Charlottetown, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), along with the Honourable Sonny Gallant, Prince Edward Island Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning, today announced support for PEI’s largest post-secondary institutions to grow international activity at UPEI and Holland College.

This support will better position Holland College to apply focused strategies to build up its international student enrollment and further grow international education activity across its programs. UPEI will build on its recruitment activities and will implement a pan-Atlantic student retention initiative in partnership with Holland College and Collège de l’Île. The initiative will help attract greater numbers of international student to PEI post-secondary institutions and support students to stay in PEI and become permanent residents after graduation.

Over the next three years, the Government of Canada, through ACOA’s Business Development Program, will provide non-repayable contributions of $932,068 to UPEI and $437,175 to Holland College to attract and retain more international students. The Government of PEI will also provide $176,625 to UPEI, Holland College and Collège de l’Île through the Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning.

These investments build on commitments made by the Government of Canada and the four Atlantic Provinces to further support the Study and Stay program, an initiative of the Atlantic Growth Strategy. Enhancing the region’s capacity to attract and retain a skilled workforce and meet regional labour market needs is a key component of this Strategy, which supports strategic projects to drive economic growth in the region.


“The Government of Canada continues to support growth in business and academia to help entrepreneurs and innovators grow, export and create jobs. While students at any level of the education system can become the entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders of tomorrow, we still need highly skilled post-secondary graduates who are ready work in a variety of sectors. The key is to keep these bright minds engaged and working locally. These investments will help UPEI and Holland College carry out strategic approaches to attract students to learn in the province and entice them to stay, build their lives here and contribute to our economy.”

  • Sean Casey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for Charlottetown

“Our government is pleased to support this project as it is a direct action item from our Population Action Plan. International students bring diversity to our Island post-secondary institutions, and furthermore contribute to our province’s overall economic growth and long-term sustainability when they choose to live and work on Prince Edward Island after their studies.”

  • The Honourable Sonny Gallant, PEI Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning

“In the last five years alone, UPEI has seen its international student body grow from approximately 600 to over 1200 students, with representation from over 80 countries. It is important to retain our international students so that our province and region can reap the benefits of their knowledge, skills and global perspective. Thanks to ACOA and the Government of PEI, the University is in a position to support graduates in reaching their full potential right here on PEI.”

  • Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island

“As we see a significant increase in our international student numbers, we are also witnessing a growing interest among our international graduates to live and work in PEI. With the support of ACOA and the Government of PEI, we are confident that we can transition more international students to the Island labour force at a time of skill shortages and labour gaps.”

  • Michael O’Grady, Vice-President, Innovation, Enterprise and Strategic Development, Holland College

Quick Facts

  • The international student enrollment at the University of Prince Edward Island represents approximately 26% of the student population.
  • At Holland College, international students make up 18% of the student population.
  • In February 2018, the Atlantic provincial governments, with support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Canada, announced the expansion of the Study and Stay program to Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Initially a pilot program to attract and retain greater numbers of international students delivered by EduNova in Nova Scotia, Study and Stay is being adapted to meet the specific needs of the individual provinces.