Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks at the camera as he responds to a question about China during a news conference outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Thursday, June 25, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Trudeau launches federal pandemic service grant program for student volunteers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday the launch of a new student grant program, which will provide up to $5,000 in one-time payments to post-secondary students and recent graduates for volunteering in pandemic-related programs, depending on the number of hours worked.

The Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) will be administered by WE Charity.

The government will also be helping young Canadians find paid work placements by supporting an additional 20,000 job placements for post-secondary students in high demand sectors with a new investment of $186 million in the Student Work Placement Program, Trudeau said.

This funding is in addition to the $80 million that Trudeau announced on April 22.

The federal government is also creating 10,000 new job placements for young people between the ages of 15 and 30 through the Canada Summer Jobs program, Trudeau said.

New funding of over $60 million will help expand the current work placement target from 70,000 to 80,000, creating 10,000 more placements for young people aged 15 to 30. The program provides wage subsidies to employers so they can hire more youth.

“Our government will also invest $40 million to create 5,000 Mitacs internships for post-secondary students as part of our $9-billion plan to help students during this crisis,” Trudeau said.

Mitacs is an NGO that builds partnerships between universities and industry, he said.

“Usually, Mitacs caters to master’s or PhD research students, but with the funding we’re announcing today, they’ll expand their internship opportunities to undergraduate students and students in professional programs like medicine, law or business,” Trudeau said.

“For example, one of their new programs will connect MBA students to small businesses that are facing challenges because of the pandemic.”

The funding will also allow Mitacs to partner with more organizations like hospitals, foundations, and municipal governments to create even more opportunities for young people, the prime minister added.

The federal government will also be increasing funding to the Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) program by $40 million to help post-secondary graduates gain professional work experience, Trudeau said. DS4Y provides wage subsidy opportunities to help connect young people with small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profits.

In addition, Ottawa will be creating over 3,500 new job placements and internships through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy. New funding of $34 million, in addition to the over $153 million announced on April 22, will support programs serving high-demand sectors such as health, community services, and information technology, and help other sectors to recover, Trudeau said.

And the federal government will be providing $6.7 million for the Computers for Schools Plus (CFS+) program, which refurbishes donated surplus computers and electronic devices, and provides them to schools, libraries, not-for-profit organizations, Indigenous communities, and low-income Canadians.

“The additional investments we are making will ensure that young people not only remain connected to the job market but also have the tools they need to keep their eye fixed on a future of their choosing,” Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said in a statement.

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