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

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

Group wants to start a pilot program for regenerative farms in North Cowichan. (File photo)
Group looks to North Cowichan for farmland

Land could also be used for affordable housing

The CVRD will reconsider its policies on fireworks after receiving complaints. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Regional District considers options for fireworks after receiving complaints

Distict only allows fireworks on Halloween and New Year’s Eve, with a permit

Ben Maartman, left, and Murray McNab are running for regional director for Area H North Oyster-Diamond in a Cowichan Valley Regional District byelection later this month. (Photos submitted)
Preliminary Area H byelection results show Maartman up by seven votes, McNab to ask for recount

Results of the by-election to by finalized by noon on Tuesday, December 1

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Cowichan MP hosting virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MP’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Santa will be in Honeymoon Bay on Dec. 13. (File photo)
Santa to visit Honeymoon Bay on Dec. 13

Families must call ahead due to pandemic

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Most Read