Canadian Members of Parliament are shown on a monitor during a virtual session of the House of Commons Tuesday April 28, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Commons approval sought for $9-billion emergency student aid package

Funds include between $1,250 and $1,750 for students and up to $5,000 in service grants

The House of Commons will be asked today to give rapid approval to legislation authorizing $9 billion in promised financial assistance for students facing bleak summer job prospects in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Late Tuesday, the government was continuing negotiations with opposition parties on details of the bill, which was shared with them on the weekend. The Liberals need unanimous agreement from the opposition parties to get the bill passed in one abbreviated afternoon sitting of the Commons.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said his party wants changes that would ensure the legislation includes incentives for young people to take available jobs, rather than stay home and collect the emergency aid.

“Right now, there is no link between those available jobs. There is no incentive to fill them,” he said earlier this week.

“We believe that this program can be improved upon if there is that kind of link so that benefits can flow in a way that ensures that students are still getting experience and still learning a skill or getting hands-on training.”

New Democrat and Green MPs have also been pushing for the aid package to be expanded to include international students who remain in Canada over the summer.

As promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, the aid package includes:

— A new Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which would provide $1,250 per month from May through August for students unable to find a full-time job or unable to work due to the pandemic. The benefit would be $1,750 per month for students with dependents or with permanent disabilities.

— A new Canada Student Service grant of up to $5,000 for post-secondary students who volunteer in some aspect of the pandemic response.

— Expanded eligibility criteria for student loans and doubling of non-repayable grants.

— For international students working in an essential service such as health care, removal of the restriction that forbids them from working more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session.

The House of Commons has been adjourned since mid-March, except for three single-day sittings to pass emergency aid legislation.

It will be meeting today with a skeleton crew of MPs in the chamber in the first of what is to be a once-a-week, in-person sitting, supplemented by one and eventually two virtual sittings each week.

The sittings are intended to allow opposition MPs to continue to hold the Liberal government to account as the pandemic drags on, requiring them to keep physical distance from one another.

MPs held their first virtual gathering on Tuesday, an exercise that was declared a success despite being plagued with technical glitches. The Speaker’s office said approximately 280 of the country’s 338 MPs took part, along with 20 Commons staff.

Trudeau, who took part Tuesday from his home office, is expected to be in the Commons today.

He is also scheduled to speak with Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The Canadian Press

CoronavirusUniversities and Colleges

Just Posted

MLA says no COVID-19 cases here in seven weeks, clash between B.C. and Alberta exaggerated

Clovechok said cars were keyed, but he believes the incidents were isolated.

Métis communities make do with minimal financial aid from Trudeau; CBT offers support

Métis citizens in valley forged ahead thanks to support from local leadership and community groups

Badgers, bears and birds to benefit from bolstering bunchgrass conservation in Rocky Mountain Trench

260 hectares (637 acres) near Canal Flats acquired for conservation

Furor erupts over CastleRock mountain bike trails

A petition has garnered 1,700 signatures so far and seeks to have the CastleRock trails legitimized.

Pedestrian-only main street?

A car-free, pedestrian-only main street in downtown Invermere could be a possibility this summer.

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read