Students criticize Trudeau, push for more summer job money

Published On April 9, 2020 | By Jeremy Yudin | COVID-19, News
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference at Rideau Cottage, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable
Jeremy Yudin

Students say upgrades to the Canada Summer Jobs program still aren’t enough.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced temporary boosts to the program on Wednesday. An increase in wage subsidies will be provided to employers to cover 70,000 jobs for youth this summer.

The time frame for the job placements is being extended until the end of February. This also counts for students working part-time.

Trudeau said the Liberals are asking MPs across the country to help connect businesses to students who are able to work.

“In this economic climate, it’s hard for people of all ages to find work, but young people are especially vulnerable. They are new to the workforce, so they don’t have a lot of money set aside for this kind of situation,” Trudeau said.

Many students feel they should be subsidized more, including Kathleen O’Brien, who started a petition called Don’t Forget Students.

The group has about two dozen students and they are working closely with the Canadian Federation of Students.

“We also have some wonderful students who are contributing through graphic design for our social media platform,” said O’Brien, who is a graduating law student from Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.

O’Brien said students don’t have the ability to follow the requirements of physical distancing and that this is her group’s number one priority.

She also believes 70,000 jobs aren’t enough.

“I feel very much like there’s a lack of definition of students that’s really reflective of the reality there. There are a lot of students who have children, there are a lot of students who themselves have other requirements or circumstances that might prevent them from being able to go out work such as health concerns,” she said.

Su Nicastro, a Toronto Civil Service worker, believes students should qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

“It’s such a disservice to our students, by the prime minister in the government, that they would not include them in the CERB,” she said.

Nicastro, who’s on sick leave due to surgery earlier this year, is now on a reduced single income, and she says the government is putting the burden on her to help her adult children.

“I helped (my kids) with their April rent, but where’s the May rent coming from? Where’s the (help for) other bills? So now my son’s exhausting his visa to buy food. I can’t afford to help them as much as I would love to.

“Why is the government making this injustice and not including our students to give them security? They are not second class citizens. They are part of all Canadians as Prime Minister Trudeau said today and they should be included in a CERB to alleviate the stress to give them some financial security at least to get on their feet… that is complete injustice of Prime Minister Trudeau and our government,” Nicastro said.

Josh Carey, a former student from Halifax, had his bonus check, income tax, and tuition support mysteriously taken away by the government.

Carey’s Twitter account.

“I’ve been calling numbers at 7 a.m. this morning. I finally got one number (but it’s) no longer in service at the moment because of the Coronavirus,” said Carey, whose former school, Mactech Distance Education, is permanently shut down.

Carey is the only one in his household making money. His girlfriend is still waiting for hers.

“(The government) should have been a bit more organized. And things should have been put more into play. Like if they’re going to exempt payments, for instance, I still think some of these things should be going through, especially for my household right now,” he said.

Trudeau said his government will bring further measures to aid students.

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