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Students can claim up to $5K in grants for volunteering this summer: PM
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered new details on the now-launched Canada Student Service Grant program including spelling out how it’ll work, and elaborated on the government’s plans to create thousands of more temporary job openings for young people who are looking for work and experience this summer.
The grant to post-secondary students and recent graduates would provide one-time payments of up to $5,000 for volunteering in pandemic-related programs, depending on the number of hours worked.
For every 100 hours spent, a student will receive $1,000.
The government has said the funding would go towards their fall tuition, but on Thursday Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger said the grant can be used for any expenses.
“We recognize that the strain on students is huge and it is diverse depending on the individual and the region,” she said.
Carleton University student Nathaniel Black told CTV News he’s still trying to figure out how he’ll afford tuition and textbooks next semester, after being unable to get a summer job.
“Next year is going to be a struggle for all of us,” Black said, adding that he would have liked to see an option for funding below 100 hours to accommodate students who are taking courses over the summer.
The service grant will be administered by WE Charity. The international organization will be responsible for screening, training and matching applicants with opportunities and distributing the grants.
The prime minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, is an official ambassador for WE Well-being, one of the charity’s initiatives. Asked if using them to run this program was a conflict, Chagger defended the decision.
“It's important that we be able to work with an organization that can ensure that they have the ability to deliver a successful program,” said the minister.
The government estimates “tens of thousands” of placements to be available. Chagger said the opportunities include helping kids learn to code and youth mentorship programs.
In an interview with CTV News, Macaulee Cassaday, founder of “Cyber Seniors,” a volunteer-run program that helps educate older Canadians about technology, said that she’s hopeful their programs will be eligible.
“Since COVID hit we have engaged I think 500 or more new seniors… we have far more seniors at this moment than we do volunteers so this would be a great help for us to get more volunteers involved,” Cassaday said.
In order to qualify to take part in this program, participants must be 30 years of age or younger; a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a student with a refugee status. As well applicants must be either:
- Enrolled in and attending a college or university during the spring, summer, or fall 2020 semesters;
- A post-secondary graduate no earlier than December 2019; or
- Studying abroad but currently residing in Canada.
Interested volunteers must register by August 21 at the latest, and completed applications for the grant have to be submitted no later than November 6.
Participants are only able to count hours volunteered between June 25 and October 31 of this year.
“Students are facing unique challenges this summer due to the pandemic. At the same time, many are wondering how they can help in the fight against COVID-19,” Trudeau said during his Rideau Cottage address on Thursday.
The government is directing those interested to a new “I want to help” information portal where they can connect with COVID-19 focused charities that could use their help.
Through this webpage, not-for-profit organizations can submit volunteer opportunities. In order to be a qualifying placement it must happen in Canada, support Canada’s COVID-19 relief efforts in some form, be a minimum of two hours per week for four weeks and follow all public health requirements.
Trudeau first promised the grant program in April, as part of a $9-billion package of COVID-19 aid measures aimed at students. At the time, the government said it wanted to put the new incentives in place for students who spend the summer volunteering because the need is there, but the grant would also reduce the number of young people who are “sitting around” because they are unable to find seasonal jobs, as Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough put it.
Parliament passed the suite of measures in early May, which allowed the Canada Emergency Student Benefit program to launch. As of June 18, 578,850 students or recent graduates have received a total of $1.2 billion in funding through the program, which offers $1,250 a month from May to August for most applicants, and up to $2,000 a month for students with dependents or with disabilities.
In a joint statement responding to Thursday's announcement, Conservative MP and employment critic Dan Albas and his colleague and youth critic Raquel Dancho criticized Trudeau for taking two months to release the details of the grant program.
“We are already two months into summer – every day the Liberals delay support or refuse to fix their programs Canadians fall through the cracks. Conservatives will continue to advocate relentlessly for all Canadians left behind by Trudeau and his Liberal government,” the MPs said.
NEW DETAILS ON JOB FUNDING
In addition to opening up the volunteer program, Trudeau also detailed how aspects of the previously promised student spending will be allocated, and where new job opportunities for students will be created.
This includes a promise to create 10,000 new job placements under the Canada Summer Jobs program, at a cost of $60 million.
During a press conference following Trudeau’s remarks, Qualtrough said that the 10,000 jobs are on top of the 70,000 already created, because the program has been “oversubscribed.”
That program has already been temporarily enhanced to allow employers who hire Canadians between the ages of 15 and 30 to apply for a subsidy of up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial hourly minimum wage.
“We know from previous economic downturns that students and youth are the last to recover. And in order to avoid consequences down the road, we are choosing to invest in them now,” Qualtrough said.
As part of the $9 billion package Trudeau also said the government would:
- Double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21;
- Offer $291.6 million to extend scholarships, fellowships, and grants for three or four months to keep research projects and placements going, including for postdoctoral fellowships; and
- Broaden eligibility for financial assistance and raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.
On Thursday, the prime minister offered more details on some of the pre-announced measures, including spending:
- $40 million to create 5,000 internships for post-secondary students with the innovation-focused NGO Mitacs to offer placements in sectors such as medicine and law;
- $266 million to create 20,000 job placements for post-secondary students in high-demand sectors through the Student Work Placement Program;
- $40 million on a wage subsidy that connects youth with small businesses and charities through the Digital Skills for Youth and the Computer for Schools Plus programs; and
- $187 million to support job placements through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy in high-demand sectors.
“If we want to build a strong and resilient economy, we have to invest in the next generation. We have to make sure our young people have the right tools to work, innovate, and succeed in the economy of the future,” said the prime minister.
With files from CTV News’ Annie Bergeron-Oliver