Student groups are saying that Canadian students have been left in financial limbo during the pandemic and are urging the federal government to quickly reallocate funds reserved for the now-canceled COVID-19 student grant project. Bryn De Chastelain, chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Association, stated that the main problem for students is that they are currently left in a limbo period right. Bryn also stated that several students were hoping to be able to access the student service grant. He added that they have been pushing for the federal government to ensure no student in Canada is left behind.
The $900-million student grant project in partnership with the WE Charity was supposed to assist tens of thousands of Canadian students who could not find summer work during the pandemic by permitting them to volunteer for a maximum of 500 hours to earn an utmost of $5,000 toward their post-secondary costs. On July 3, allegations of conflict of interest between the charity, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s families made the deal to be terminated.
Students are left with little time to accumulate hours to get the grant or apply for alternative financial aid packages before the fall semester as the federal government is yet to announce plans to relaunch the program.
De Chastelain said that they initially saw details of this program announced in April and waited for more details and only got that in the last week of June. He also indicated that the time has run out on this program, and they are hopeful that the government might be able to reallocate this money. De Chastelain noted that the job market has “evaporated” for students because of the pandemic, leaving many in a “financial hole. He added that it had been a great support in terms of allowing students to focus a little bit more on their immediate payments, like rent or groceries for students who have been able to access the emergency response benefit, or the emergency student benefit.
De Chastelain confirmed that when it comes to thinking about paying tuition and additional fees in the fall, students are still going to find themselves in a financial hole. He noted that some of the federal programs had left international and mature students ineligible for financial assistance. The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) earlier this week launched a petition asking to reallocate funds to the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)and the federal government to cancel the student service grant program. Sofia Descalzi, National Chairperson of the CFS, had said that students have waited for this program to roll out, and now they’re told they have to wait even longer, which is unacceptable.