August 26/27, 2023

From the Pastor’s Desk – Rev. Francis Chan

Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,

In churches established by Hong Kong immigrants from the 80s and 90s, the average age of the Cantonese-speaking congregants has been increasing as time goes by. As at now, the average age would be around 60 if not older. Meanwhile, their second, third, and even fourth generations, if they have remained in their church, most of them would have settled in their English-speaking congregation. Given this trend of development, the number of Cantonese-speaking congregants is expected to decrease over time, while the number of English-speaking congregants is projected to increase.

Starting from the latter half of 2020 however, there has been a continuous flow of Hongkongers immigrating or returning to Canada. Since the Canadian government’s “lifeboat program” for Hong Kong residents came into effect on June 8, 2021, a substantial number of Hongkongers have come to Canada through Stream A to study and Stream B to work. As our church is located in one of the cities with the highest number of Hong Kong immigrants, we have naturally attracted many newcomers from Hong Kong. Despite a decrease in physical attendance across our 3 Cantonese-speaking services after COVID, the influx of new Hong Kong immigrants has helped maintain a weekly average of over 600 attendees for our 3 Cantonese-speaking services. For this, we are most thankful to God.

Recently, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada (IRCC) announced the relaxation of educational requirements for Stream B work applications from August 15, 2023, until August 31, 2026. Accordingly, any Hongkonger with a valid work permit, regardless of his educational background, regardless of the type of work, can apply for Canadian permanent residence (“PR”) so long as he has either completed one year of fulltime work or accumulated 1,560 hours of parttime work within 3 years. This relaxation also applies to Hongkongers coming to work in Canada through the Working Holiday visa, which is available for those aged 18 to 30 and who have purchased round-trip tickets. Another popular route to obtain work visas is through Stream A. When a married fulltime student receives her study permit through Stream A, her spouse will be eligible to apply for an open work permit. In such a case, even if the fulltime studying spouse is unable to complete the specified course within 2 to 3 years, as long as her spouse begins fulltime work upon arrival and continues for a year, the working spouse will be eligible to apply for PR after completing one year of fulltime work. It follows that whether the studying spouse could eventually complete her course will not affect their family’s immigration plan if her working spouse can successfully applied for PR.

Due to the relatively lenient conditions for work visa applications and the requirement of only one-year fulltime work for PR applications, Canada has recently become the most favored immigration destination for many Hongkongers. Against this backdrop, it is highly likely that more young people and young families from Hong Kong will come to our city in the next 2 to 3 years. As a church established by Hong Kong immigrants, how should we respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as those faith seekers from Hong Kong? How can we prepare ourselves to answer God’s calling and fulfill his will?

His Servant
Pastor Francis Chan