Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $9 billion aid package for students Wednesday. This will help them to confront the reality of a summer without the jobs they need to pay fall tuition.
Trudeau has promised help for students for weeks. So there have been calls to add them to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
The support Trudeau is offering is a similar benefit, with students qualifying for monthly payments for May through August. There will also be grant programs for students who volunteer this summer, with 76,000 available jobs.
The prime minister said he hoped it would help them to get through the next few months.
“This uncertainty that you feel can be overwhelming. Nevertheless in Canada, we look out for each other, we value education, service, hard work. These measures will help you get through this so you can build that career you have been looking forward to.”
The new benefit will pay students $1,250 per month, with that figure rising to $1,750 if they have a dependent to support. CERB pays $2,000 a month, with more available for people with children.
The program will apply both to recent grads and to high school students who are starting post-secondary education in the fall for the first time. It will require the government to pass new legislation in the House of Commons.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the Liberals have been too slow to offer help and should have just extended the CERB payments.
“New Democrats are glad the government is finally turning its focus to help students. However, another complicated system is not what students need and it comes weeks late,” he said in a statement.
Singh also questioned why students are getting less than they would under CERB.
“It makes no sense that a parent that has to take care of their children can apply for the CERB and get $2,000. Yet a parent that is also a student will only get between $1,250 and $1,750. Feeding your kids costs the same.”
Since the government first announced support payments, it has had to expand its offerings several times to cover more people, including part-time workers. Trudeau is still promising more changes to help seniors or retirees who don’t currently qualify.
Trudeau was asked Wednesday why the government has rolled out a piecemeal approach to support programs rather than simply providing money to everyone through a universal payment. He said the government wanted to focus on those who have lost incomes.