The Yukon Party has questions for the federal and territorial governments regarding help for post-secondary students who lost their jobs and are planning to continue studies in the fall.
Copperbelt South MLA Scott Kent of the Yukon Party wrote a letter to both levels of government outlining his concerns on April 6. He spoke with the News on April 7 to go over his concerns.
Kent said some of his constituents contacted him about this issue because many post-secondary students have lost their part-time jobs and may not have summer job prospects due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added many Yukoners study Outside but return here for summer work.
This is a gap in the relief plans, Kent said, leading him to write the letter so his constituents can get a sense of what programs are being offered or may be coming up.
Kent clarified that once the pandemic is over, everything can return to normal as some of the lost jobs come back.
“I think it makes sense to have some of these measures be targeted and time-limited so that they can be revisited as the situation develops over time,” Kent said.
He said he does not want to see any post-secondary students not be able to pursue their studies in the fall due to a lack of resources.
Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, of the Liberal Party, also spoke with the News on April 7 regarding the letter.
He said he is glad the Yukon Party has publicly voiced support for helping post-secondary students and that students can currently get a loan deferment.
The deferment would last for six months, starting March 3, with students not required to make interest or principal payments during that period.
Students who lost a part-time job due to the pandemic are eligible for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, provided they made at least $5,000 in 2019.
He added the federal government would be giving out a 75-per-cent wage subsidy to businesses. Bagnell said this would help some post-secondary students.
“Some students will get jobs at those companies,” Bagnell said.
He said the subsidy could allow some business to open up again, and that students who lost their jobs at such businesses could return to work.
Students could be hired to other jobs and still be covered by the subsidy, provided the student is not an immediate family member of the business owner.
The relief benefit has already been introduced and went into effect on April 6. He estimated that there were nearly 1 million applicants for the benefit on day one.
The wage subsidy is about three weeks away, Bagnell estimated, attributing this lengthy time period due to the large scale of the program. He said this is a $71-billion subsidy.
Rules are still being ironed out for the subsidy.
Bagnell said all the information regarding COVID relief programs can be found at www.canada.ca.
He added that there is a line northerners can call if they are having trouble with applying for these programs. That number is 1-866-426-1527.
Tracy McPhee, the Yukon’s Minister of Education, gave a statement to the News by email on April 7.
She said her department is working with Yukon College on how to support students returning in the fall.
“We are continuing to support employment opportunities, where possible, for Yukon post-secondary students through the Student Training and Employment Program, which provides wage subsidies for employers who hire Yukon post-secondary students for summer jobs,” McPhee said in the email.
She added that the territory is working with the federal government on its programs to help post-secondary students and she looks forward to providing more info once it becomes available.
“The Government of Canada provides the funding and collection for student loans in Yukon and their recent adjustments to student loans will benefit Yukon students,” McPhee said. “While many post-secondary students are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, we understand that further supports are being developed that will help post-secondary students.”
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