Amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic which has already pushed millions into unemployment, Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, has announced a $9 billion aid package for students facing an uncertain future and lack of tuition fees. The support is very similar to the one provided under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The financial aid is aimed at helping students cover their expenses from May till August. The aid will provide students with the financial assistance of $1,250 per month and $1,750, in case they have a dependent to support. The Government also plans to create 76,000 paid jobs for students this summer.
Recent graduates and high school students starting tertiary education in the fall are eligible to apply for financial aid. However, the New Democratic Party leader, Jagmeet Singh, believes that the government has been too slow in providing support to those in need. He believes that, rather than setting up new financial aid plans for students, they should have been covered under CERB, which is currently providing $2000 of allowance to employees, people who are self-employed, contract workers, etc.
David Robinson, the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, said that he is relieved that students will be getting financial support during these uncertain times. However, he did share his dissatisfaction over the allowance being less than what is being provided under CERB. He shared that since many Canadian Universities rely on International students, it is even more challenging for the schools to keep their facilities functional.
Meanwhile, Trudeau plans to announce support payments to more and more people including senior citizens. When quizzed about his slow approach, Trudeau said that the government wants to focus on those who have lost their livelihood. He also declared the extension of post-doctoral programs or federally funded programs in order to help students stay longer in class, along with other grant programs for students who wish to volunteer during the summer. Nonetheless, Justin Trudeau appears confident that once the crisis has passed, Canadian students will be ready to take the lead in the rising economy.
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