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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Planned upgrades didn’t go as planned

CityWest said a fibre-line break caused outages to all customers

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

BC Ferries Sailing Cancellations

Prince Rupert - Haida Gwaii - Northern Adventure

Month-long water quality advisory still in effect for Rupert residents

The City of Prince Rupert recommends those with weakened immune systems boil water prior to use

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

Vancouver Island family overwhelmed with 14 Lab puppies

Litter may be one of the biggest ever

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

First full day of B.C.’s election campaign begins amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and the Green party’s Sonia Furstenau criticized John Horgan’s decision

Most Read