It’s not too late to use the funds from the cancelled WE student service contract to create local jobs for students.
That’s the message from North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney in a letter delivered to the federal ministers of Finance, Youth, and Employment.
Blaney says that while much of the attention around the WE scandal focused on the awarding of the contract and the involvement of the Prime Minister and former finance minister in the process, it has also meant that the Canada Student Service Grant failed to launch.
In her letter Blaney recommends reallocating all of the $900 million that was supposed to go to students and community organizations to the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program.
She wants the ministers to “look at the reality” of what’s happening with the summer funding.
“What I’ve simply asked for, is the government to consider looking at the applications that have already been in, have already been approved, but did not have sufficient funding in our riding, to provide summer jobs for students,” Blaney said.
“We know the summer is ending, but the federal government extended the ability of students to be able to work during a longer period of time this year because of COVID-19.”
The CSJ program was extended this year in response to COVID-19 to cover a greater share of student wages and to allow job placements to continue through February 2021.
“The initial [CSJ] grant allocation in my riding left nearly $750,000 of unmet demand from employers… representing good jobs for students that have not been created,” wrote Blaney in the letter.
“Using the CSSG funds to award additional Canada Summer Job grants could provide additional opportunities for the many students who aren’t returning to full-time studies in the fall for financial or health reasons” said Blaney, “and it would support more local employers as they try to survive and recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”
Blaney said that in her riding, there is $530,000 outstanding that would go to businesses, communities, and non-profit organizations that she says would provide some support they desperately need during COVID, but would also provide an opportunity for young people to have employment.
“Since that $900 million isn’t going to be spent or has been stopped, I think the government needs to look at other venues to get those resources out to communities where those needs are high and the money is needed.”
We have reached out to the federal Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion for a response.