Nine-billion-dollar package pushes country further into debt
By Atiba Nelson, Staff Reporter
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government came to the aid of affected workers by offering monthly monetary benefits, further plunging Canada into the deepest national debt it has ever faced. Now students are also set to receive money.
Last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised post-secondary students a new emergency benefit due to educational interruption and dwindling job prospects amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
With Rideau Cottage in the background, the Prime Minster announced a $1250 monthly payment coming to post-secondary students until August. The benefit would increase to $1,750 monthly for students with disabilities, or students who have dependents.
“The future of our economy and our country relies on the opportunities and support we provide to Canadian students today. To promote a sustainable economic recovery, we need a strong workforce and good job opportunities for young people,” said Trudeau through a press release. “That means giving them the support they need to continue their studies and encouraging them to serve their communities. Together, we will get through this difficult time.”
In 2016 to 2017, the federal government reported that enrollment at Canadian public colleges and universities totalled 2,051,865 students—with 12 percent of overall enrolments being international or non-Canadian students. The new federal plan laid out by Trudeau did not address whether international students were eligible for the benefit.
The total package being generated by the federal government to help post-secondary students includes a new Canada Student Service Grant which will go to students who volunteer via national service or serve their communities. Although the Canada Student Service Grant will not translate to money directly to students, it will provide up to $5,000 for a recipient’s education in the fall.
The new package is in addition to the changes the federal government recently made to the Canada Summer Jobs program—increasing the wage subsidy and extending employment end dates. There has also been a suspension of the repayment schedule and interest accruing on student and apprentice loans.
The national debt is now more than $715-billion dollars after rising every year since the Trudeau government was elected.