‘Cast aside’: Student job seekers say they’ve been forgotten in federal pandemic plan

A sign advertising available jobs at the Clocktower Brew Pub hangs in a window in Ottawa Nov. 9, 2017. 
Chris Wattie/Reuters

Date Published: April 7, 2020

Source: CBC

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) of $2,000 a month, seems at an initial glance to be a great initiative to support people who have lost their income due to the pandemic, however it neglects a significant portion of the work-force: the part-time and summer student employees and the “gig workers”. Students who had summer employment plans now have no way to save up for the following academic year. In order to be eligible for CERB you need to have a minimum annual income of $5,000 and need to have lost income due to the pandemic for at least 14 consecutive days in the last month, which leaves out students who have not worked consistently through the academic year. On Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledged these concerns and said they are working on a plan to support the university and college student work-force. Students are still concerned however, that once businesses resume hiring following the pandemic, they will be competing with a market of experienced workers who employers will prefer and prioritize hiring over students and new, inexperienced graduates. It is not only students struggling to access the federal benefits, contract workers and freelancers are also disadvantaged. Philip Sportel, a Toronto-based visual effects artist, states his income has dropped by 10% of his pre-pandemic earnings, and has to turn down pay cheques from small animation contracts in order to ensure he fits the 14 days of unemployment criteria for CERB. Gold-Apel, a second-year master’s student of public policy at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, has written a letter to federal ministers asking to adopt measures to specifically aid students, such as providing a guaranteed basic income to all citizens. 

Read the full article here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pandemic-covid-coronavirus-university-summer-job-cerb-1.5523934

Summary by: Hira Raheel