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PM Trudeau announces $9B in new COVID-19 funding for students

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OTTAWA —
Students and recent graduates who have seen their education and job prospects hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will soon be able to claim a new Canada Emergency Student Benefit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced, as part of a $9 billion package of new measures aimed at helping young people.

The benefit will see eligible postsecondary students receive $1,250 a month from May to August, and if you are taking care of someone else or have a disability, that amount increases to $1,750 monthly.

College and university students currently in school, planning to start in September, or who graduated in December 2019 are eligible.

As well, working students earning less than $1,000 per month can apply.

“COVID-19 has meant that there aren’t as many jobs out there for students, and without a job, it can be hard to pay for tuition or the day-to-day basics. You might normally have turned to your parents for help, but right now mom and dad are stretched, too,” Trudeau said. 

Trudeau said the benefit will require additional legislation and talks are now underway about how quickly a bill to implement this new program can be brought forward.

In Wednesday’s update on COVID-19 measures from Rideau Cottage, Trudeau said new student jobs and grants are also on their way.

Specifically, the federal government is also:

  • Creating an additional 76,000 jobs for young people in sectors that need an extra hand right now, or that are on the frontlines of this pandemic which could include contact tracing or helping out on farms;
  • Investing $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.
  • Broadening eligibility for financial assistance and raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.
  • Launching a new Canada Student Service Grant of between $1,000 and $5,000 for students volunteering in the COVID-19 fight to go towards their fall tuition;
  • Providing $75.2 million to specifically increase support for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation students; and
  • Doubling 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.The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents are also being doubled. 

“To all the students watching today, let me say this: As you’re building your future, thinking about how to contribute, about starting a family or career, all of a sudden you’re faced with a massive crisis… These measures will help you get through this, so that you can build that career and the future that you’ve been looking forward to, that we’ve been looking forward to for you,” Trudeau said.

“On the other side of this, when the economy comes roaring back you will define our path forward.” 

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said that the government wanted to put new incentives in place for students who spend the summer volunteering because the need is there, but it will also reduce the number of young people who are “sitting around” this summer.

WON’T ‘SOLVE ALL PROBLEMS’

While the news of more aid is being welcomed by student groups, “we don’t expect it to solve all the problems that students are going to have over the summer,” said Adam Brown, chair of the University of Alberta students’ union, and chair of the board of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

“It’s a very stressful time overall for students. A lot of students have moved home, a lot of international students are still in Canada because potentially there’s a worse situation in their home country, so it’s very unpredictable right now,” he said in an interview on CTV News Channel. 

Brown said that while it will help cover rent and food over the summer, come the fall another conversation will be needed about next steps.

Looming large is the question of whether or not schools will even be able to resume classes come September, with many having to develop contingency plans, especially for courses that are typically held in large lecture halls with more than 100 students.

The new funds will be available for Canadians studying in Canada, as well as students who are completing postsecondary schooling abroad, her office clarified. Non-citizens, such as international students, cannot claim the emergency benefit.

However, international students are going to be allowed to work more that the current maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who continues to advocate for a universal emergency benefit rather than continuing the rollout of targeted and varying amounts for different groups, said in a statement that he is glad more help is coming for students but “another complicated system is not what students need.”

Singh also took issue with the fact that these new supports won’t come into effect until next month.

“It makes no sense that a parent that has to take care of their children can apply for the CERB and get $2,000, but a parent that is also a student will only get between $1,250 and $1,750. Feeding your kids costs the same,” he said.

These new measures come after some students had voiced concerns that they were not eligible for the $2,000 per month Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which requires applicants to have earned at least $5,000 in the past year, which isn’t the case for all completing postsecondary studies.

Qualtrough said that the government chose the amount—which is less than those who are eligible for the CERB are receiving— with the fact in mind that other financials supports are available for students.

The federal government has committed to closing some of the gaps that have been identified with the emergency aid program amid criticism that many Canadians were left out. The government said that their initial focus would be on getting money to as many people as possible and fine-tuning the criteria later.

Already, the federal government has announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program to help students find work in a largely locked-down country once their summer begins.

Through that program, employers who hire summer students can apply for a subsidy of up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial hourly minimum wage. This is aimed at helping create up to 70,000 jobs for Canadians between the ages of 15 and 30, and giving them work experience and an income, the government says.

As well, at the end of March the National Student Loans Service Centre paused student loan repayments for six months, interest-free.

MORE HELP COMING FOR SENIORS

Trudeau said on Wednesday to expect more help for seniors in the coming days, citing concerns about their long-term savings, and their cost of life rising.

“We are working right now on measures for seniors, I want to thank the other parties who have made excellent suggestions and we will have more to announce in the coming days,” he said.

Later on Wednesday Ontario joined Quebec in calling for military help inside long-term care homes.

The prime minister continuing to roll out expansions and updated financial assistance indicates, as Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam continues to say, that the economy is still weeks away from reopening. 

Though, the measures in place appear to have been effective in avoiding an “explosive outbreak” Tam said on Tuesday. Nonetheless, she’s encouraging all sectors of society to start thinking now about how they could adapt their day-to-day activities to maintain physical distancing until there is a treatment or vaccine for the virus. 

As of Wednesday afternoon there are 39,805 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, and there have been 1,966 deaths.

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Fredericton gains new space for LGTBQ community

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The LGBTQ community in Fredericton will soon have a new place to call home after a nightclub in the city closed a little over a month ago.

Diane Wilson, also known as “Queer Mama” to Fredericton’s LGBTQ community, was a regular at Boom! Nightclub. She decided to lease the space when she heard about the nightclub’s closure in late June.

“That was the place where I could go and I could be who I was, and everyone accepted me,” Wilson said, adding her husband and kids are loving and supportive, but not everyone is so lucky.

“If that space is important to me, how much more important was it to somebody whose family doesn’t support them?”

Boom! Nightclub was a staple of the LGBTQ community for 15 years, but closed permanently because of losses caused by the COVID-19 shutdown.

Wilson has been an ally to the LGBTQ community for years and has assisted organizers with a Pride parade in Fredericton. 

“I need everybody to have a home, and home isn’t necessarily where you live. Home is where you can be you,” she said. 

Wilson is leasing the building for $3,700 per month. The new space will be called Monarch because it’s a “place of rebirth and coming into oneself,” Wilson said. 

Monarch will be a community centre by day and a bar by night. 

Alcohol will only be available at night. After consulting the LGBTQ community, Wilson said people were eager to have an alcohol-free space they could go to during the day. 

“It’s more work, but I think it’s important that the youth in the community also have a safe place to go, too,” Wilson said.

Diane Wilson, also known as “Queer Mama” to Fredericton’s LGBTQ community, was a regular at Boom! Nightclub before it closed. (Submitted by Diane Marie Wilson)

The community centre will offer classes like Drag 101, where people can learn how to put on makeup for drag performances, and sexual education classes. Monarch will also hold all-ages dances and all-ages So You Think You Can Drag events.

For now, Monarch will turn into a lounge in the evenings. Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, it will transform into a bar and dance club at night. 

Wilson has been inside the former Boom! building several times since it closed.

She said she plans to change the layout and add frosted windows. The exterior walls will also be painted and a new sign installed.

Monarch’s staff will be trained in mental health first aid and will have to take a safe space training run by the University of New Brunswick’s 203 Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity.

“I want my staff to be the best-trained staff in Fredericton, so that when people come into our space they know that everybody that works there is trained to help them in any way that they need.”

Wilson is hoping to open Monarch on Oct. 1, but she said renovating may take longer than that.

“I really look forward to opening the space and seeing people walk through the door and feeling welcomed and feeling loved.”

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Government of Canada invests in Saskatchewan Indigenous businesses and communities

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As we walk the road of reconciliation together, the federal government remains strongly committed to creating economic opportunities for Indigenous businesses and communities.

Government of Canada supports Saskatchewan Indigenous Economic Development

In celebration of this important day, Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), today announced $895,000 in funding to support initiatives that aim to bring culturally-relevant programming for Indigenous peoples to fully participate in the economic growth of Saskatchewan.

Delivered by WD, this funding will support two made-in-Saskatchewan projects led by Indigenous communities, businesses, and organizations in the region. It will create good local jobs and spur entrepreneurship and career development by helping the Ya’thi Néné Land and Resource Office develop training and employment opportunities for residents of northern Saskatchewan affected by the slow-down of uranium mining in the Athabasca Basin. Funding will also support the Gabriel Dumont Institute Training and Employment Inc. to build on a successful entrepreneurship pilot program focused on Métis entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan.

Quotes

“True reconciliation means supporting Indigenous communities and businesses by providing opportunities for their success. This investment from WD will do just that – helping Indigenous business people to seize opportunities, helping Indigenous organizations deliver important local projects and supporting Indigenous communities on their path to self-sufficiency and prosperity. I’m excited to see the difference that this investment will make for Indigenous communities across Western Canada.”

– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada

“Our government is making strategic investments to help communities and businesses capitalize on economic development and growth opportunities and kick-start the country’s economy. Indigenous small- and medium-sized businesses exemplify the ingenuity and drive that is at the core of the region’s entrepreneurial spirit.”

– Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada

Quick Facts

  • International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed each year on August 9 to promote and protect the rights of the world’s Indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous peoples make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.
  • The funding announced today is provided through WD’s programs, which strategically invests in projects that promote sustainable community economic diversification, enhance business development and growth, and facilitate innovation.

Associated Links

Stay Connected
Follow the department on Twitter: @WD_Canada 

WD Toll-Free Number: 1-888-338-WEST (9378)
TTY (telecommunications device for the hearing impaired): 1-877-303-3388

Backgrounder: Western Economic Diversification Canada’s investments support Indigenous skills development and jobs in Saskatchewan

As we walk the road of reconciliation together, the Government of Canada remains strongly committed to creating economic opportunities for Indigenous businesses and communities.

The Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), is investing $895,000 to support Saskatchewan Indigenous communities.

Indigenous-focused projects supported by WD

Gabriel Dumont Institute Training and Employment Inc.                                    $745,000
Build on a successful entrepreneurship pilot program focused on Métis entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan. The intent is to train 350 individuals, while creating 20 jobs and completing 13 community-based projects. The funds will also help in the creation or expansion of 100 Métis-owned businesses.

Ya’thi Néné Land and Resource Office                                                                  $150,000
Create training and employment opportunities for residents of northern Saskatchewan affected by the slow down of uranium mining in the Athabasca Basin. The intent is to train 50 Indigenous participants while creating 25 jobs. Training will be tailored to employment opportunities available in northern Saskatchewan such as health, trades, hospitality and aviation.

SOURCE Western Economic Diversification Canada

For further information: Alexander Cohen, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, [email protected]; Rhonda Laing, Director, Policy, Planning and External Relations, Western Economic Diversification Canada, [email protected]

Related Links

http://www.wd.gc.ca/



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University students frustrated by fees ahead of online semester amid COVID-19

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In about a month, Nina Jeffery will begin her fourth year studying media production at Ryerson University, and like many post-secondary students in Canada, most of her courses will be online.

But even though her education now looks radically different, she says her tuition breakdown doesn’t. 

“The fact of the matter is that I am not paying for the same type of education I signed up for when I started my program,” she told CBC Toronto in an email. “Fees should reflect that.”

Maeve McNaughton, a fellow Ryerson student, explains it this way: “We are paying a good amount towards campus maintenance, campus building access, athletics access, recreation… and we can’t access any of them.” 

That frustration isn’t limited to students at Ryerson. 

Ryerson University tells CBC Toronto its moving many of its services, for example its career centre, online. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Nate Denaro, a student at York University, has calculated that even with a reduced fee, he’ll spend about $270 this coming school year on athletics and recreation, saying the school’s decision to not drop the fee altogether is “outrageous.” 

Fifi Wei, set to start her first year at Sheridan College, was also surprised by what she saw when she looked at the fine print of her tuition. 

“I realized, ‘Oh my god, they charge a lot of fees that actually aren’t applicable for students who study at home,’ she said, citing an on-campus health centre charge as an example. 

Wei wrote Sheridan, asking them to reconsider, but was told the fees are not optional. 

Petitions call for reduced tuition

Almost as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic began and university classes began migrating online, students began lobbying for refunds and tuition and fee reductions. 

At Ryerson and other schools, online petitions have sprung up to ask university administrations to reconsider how much they charge. 

Julia Pereira, president of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), says the frustration around fees and tuition in general reflect the deep economic uncertainty students are facing.

“We know that students have really struggled to find a job over the summer,” she said. 

Pereira says student unions at the eight universities her organization represents have been trying to bring down fees to reflect that. 

For example, at her own school, Laurier University, Pereira says the student union has reduced clubs fees, while other universities have negotiated to remove the fee for bus passes.   

Pereira also says that OUSA has been trying to address the larger affordability problem by calling on the province to “enhance OSAP and give students more financial aid” as well as asking it to better fund universities so they don’t need to rely on ancillary fees paid by students. 

Some schools reduce, cut fees

For their part, the post-secondary institutions contacted by CBC Toronto say they are sensitive to the economic difficulties their students are facing, and some are adjusting fees to reflect that.

At Sheridan, for example, fees that support athletic facilities have been cut altogether. 

York and Ryerson stress that many services, like career and library services, are being moved online, so the fees must remain in place. 

Ryerson also says it’s still exploring a mix of online and on-campus learning for students and that it’s hopeful it will open its athletic facilities soon, given that Toronto has now entered Stage 3 of its reopening plan. 

The two universities told CBC Toronto that overall tuition can’t be changed, saying virtual instruction costs the same amount and has the same outcome as in-person classes.  

Meanwhile, the burst of student lobbying to lower costs that began with the pandemic began appears to be winding down, says Jeffery. 

Ryerson student Maeve McNaughton understands the need to pay tuition to support her professors, but believes ancillary fees should be lowered. (Submitted by Maeve McNaughton)

People feel “burnt out” after months of pushing, she said. 

Between paying for housing, finding jobs and trying to stay safe during a pandemic, young adults “have so much else to worry about,” she said.

For her part, McNaughton isn’t hopeful that anything will change in the final weeks before school begins, but says she’ll continue to advocate all the same.   

“I do think it’s the university’s responsibility to prepare for events like this. And they shouldn’t be asking students individually to pay for their maintenance when we can’t use the campus.” 

 

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