April 14th, 2020
Letter to Ministers Chagger & Qualtrough
Regarding Support for Students and Recent Graduates during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dear Minister Chagger & Qualtrough,
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic catastrophe currently occurring in Canada are having unprecedented repercussions for all Canadians; and while I am grateful for the efforts made by your government to protect some Canadians at this challenging time, I want to urge you to not discount or minimize the needs of post-secondary students and recent graduates.
While I recognize the efforts being made through a 6-month moratorium on repayments of student loans and the increased funding made available through the Canada Summer Jobs program, I do not feel that these measures alone will adequately address the significant needs being felt by many post-secondary students and recent graduates in this country. Students and recent graduates are facing an economic future more precarious than any previous generation has faced in decades. Most students in Canada depend on the spring and summer months to pay for the increasing costs of attending post-secondary institutions in Canada and recent graduates have often depleted their financial resources by graduation, expecting to find work with their new educational credentials. The economic reality in Canada is such that those opportunities to find employment, whether through Canada Summer Jobs or in a graduate’s area of expertise are extremely limited and students and recent graduates will suffer devastating financial consequences as a result.
A far better way to ensure students are able to meet their financial obligations and can afford to continue their studies in the fall would be to include students in the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The New Democratic Party has asked the government to implement a universal direct payment to everyone across Canada and, excluding this, expansion of the CERB would be the next best way to make sure students and recent graduates are protected during this crisis.
The Canadian Parliament passed legislation on April 11, 2020 that compels the government to address gaps in the CERB to include many Canadians who have fallen through the cracks of the current program, including students. I would like to strongly encourage you and your colleagues to act without delay on these measures and do whatever you can to quickly and decisively expand the CERB to include all post-secondary students and recent graduates at the earliest possible moment.
The unprecedented times we find ourselves in will require an unprecedented response; one that will require vision, creativity, and kindness. I look forward to working with the Government of Canada to support all Canadians during these challenging times to ensure all Canadians, including students and recent graduates, have the resources they require. Please feel free to contact me at any time for support on these initiatives.
I wish the best of health to you and your families.